New Brunswick Cultural Center Announces Free Outdoor Music Series

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NEW BRUNSWICK — The New Brunswick Cultural Center announced Hub City Sounds, a free outdoor music series to be held at the city’s river-front amphitheater at Boyd Park on Saturdays in August and September.

The series will launch the 2012-13 arts season in New Brunswick with performances by all of the Cultural Center organizations: George Street Playhouse, State Theatre, American Repertory Ballet and Crossroads Theatre as well as one of the country’s hottest folk/bluegrass groups, The Tres Amigos; New Jersey Blues band The Fins; the New Brunswick based Bomba and Plena group Cimarrones, Jazz in the Park featuring Arturo O’Farrill Afro Latin sextet and Winard Harper and Jeli Posse presented by The New Brunswick Jazz Project; and a special performance by the New Brunswick High School Jazz Ensemble.

Three of the Hub City Sounds events are specifically geared to a family audience: a concert by the popular rock group StarFish, presented by State Theatre, a performance of the musical comedy Austin the Unstoppable by George Street Playhouse’s Educational Touring Company and an interactive performance for kids of all ages by American Repertory Ballet.

All events are free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating. Food and beverages will be available for purchase from festival vendors. VIP and Handicapped Parking will be available by the city dock site for $10. Other parking is available one block away at the Rutgers University Safety Building Deck. Programs and artists are subject to change, updated schedule and information will be available on and


Saturday, August 11 at 4 p.m. Jazz in the Park, presented by The New Brunswick Jazz Project and the Civic League of Greater New Brunswick. This kick-off event will include performances by Winard Harper and Jeli Posse at 4 p.m., The New Brunswick High School Jazz Ensemble at 5:15 and Arturo O’Farrill Afro Latin sextet at 5:45.

Hailed as “one of the true great bandleaders who sits behind the drum kit” by Chicago Defender Newspaper, Winard Harper is a one of the most celebrated drummers in Jazz. A virtuoso on the drum set as well as the balafon, the West African equivalent of the marimba, Down Beat Magazine raves that “Harper plays the kind of soulful music that puts the lie to the notion that uncompromising jazz can’t feed both the head and the heart…. (he) augments his high-energy hard-bop with an exploration of global rhythms and textures.”

Arturo O’Farrill, pianist, composer extraordinaire, educator and winner of the Latin Jazz USA Outstanding Achievement Award for 2003, was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. In 2002, Mr. O’Farrill created the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra for Jazz at Lincoln Center due in part to a large and very demanding body of substantial music in the genre of Latin and Afro Cuban Jazz that deserves to be much more widely appreciated and experienced by the general jazz audience. His debut album with the Orchestra “Una Noche Inolvidable” earned a GRAMMY award nomination in 2006. In 2008, he and the Orchestra won a GRAMMY for Best Latin Jazz Album for “Song for Chico.”

Saturday, August 18 at 5 p.m. – The Fins
Credited with bringing Big Band Blues to the East Coast, New Jersey’s own eight-piece “Rockin’ Blues Band” blends rhythm and blues, jump, swing, jazz and urban Chicago sound — making them a local favorite and an international blues sensation.

Saturday, August 25 at 5 p.m. – StarFish, presented by State Theatre
This 5-piece band electrifies kids’ music and gives parents the opportunity to share a real rock concert experience with their children. Based in Maplewood, NJ, StarFish consists of 5 life long musicians (who are now also dads) who love to bring a little bit of rock and roll to the little ones, performing original, energetic, classic rock-based tunes with kid-friendly lyrics, they cover such familiar territory as sibling rivalry, school rules, and fun times with friends. Parents are StarFish fans too, and enjoy musical nods to a wide range of rock influences, such as Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Phish, and Tom Petty.

Saturday, September 8 at 5 pm — The Tres Amigos
Named one of the top 50 summer experiences by Time Out NYC, The Tres Amigos are a quintessential American band with a sound and style all their own. Careening back and forth between three-part harmony-singing and bursts of instrumental improvisation, The Tres Amigos deliver daring takes on American standards and original songs that already sound like classics- all tightly arranged to suit the group’s unique mix of alto saxophone, accordion, acoustic guitar, and hollerin’ voices. White Lightning, Woody Guthrie, slow Delta blues, fast Brazilian choros, Night and Day, Good Night Irene-all find their way into the Amigos’ exuberant repertoire and feel like they belong there.

Saturday, September 15 at 5 p.m.Crossroads Theatre Musical Showcase
Crossroads Theatre Company presents a special Musical Showcase featuring performers who have graced the Crossroads’ stage in recent years. The show will include special sections highlighting R&B and Gospel as well as a special tribute to the Negro Baseball Leagues.

Saturday, September 22 at 5 p.m. Cimarrones
With roots in New Brunswick, The Cimarrones are one of the most sought-after Bomba and Plena groups in New Jersey — enchanting audiences of all ages with their high energy dancing, drumming and vocals with the percussion-driven musical traditions of Puerto Rico.

Saturday, September 29 at 4:30 pm – A double bill of Family Friendly Programs by George Street Playhouse and American Repertory Ballet

George Street Playhouse’s touring production of Austin the Unstoppable — a musical for families about health and wellness by Barry Wyner and Daniel Israel — is the story of reigning master of the X-box and junk food junkie, eleven-year-old Austin – who must face the long-term consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle when he learns his mother has been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. This fun, upbeat musical engages students in the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise by celebrating how positive change can occur through the power of love, hard work and support.

American Repertory Ballet is New Jersey’s premiere classical and contemporary ballet company, and was voted NJ’s “Favorite Dance Company” in Jersey Arts’ 2011 People’s Choice Awards. The organization is comprised of American Repertory Ballet’s professional company, Princeton Ballet School, and ARB’s Access and Enrichment initiatives, including the long-running and acclaimed DANCE POWER educational program in the New Brunswick public school district. At Hub City Sounds, the dancers of American Repertory Ballet will present excerpts from two dances, “Grumpy Bird” and “Drive”. “Grumpy Bird” brings Jeremy Tankard’s children’s book to the stage in an interactive format for the community. The work is choreographed by ARB Resident Choreographer Matthew Keefe to music by Mozart. “Drive” is an upbeat, athletic contemporary ballet piece choreographed by Alexis Branagan that provides a look at dance that does not follow a specific story line. These performances will be followed by an interactive ballet experience for children (and adults!) of all ages, led by DANCE POWER Coordinator and Princeton Ballet School faculty member Kathleen Smith.

New Brunswick Cultural Center, Inc. (NBCC), is the nonprofit organization that oversees the evolution, improvement, and expansion of the downtown cultural and entertainment district. The organization supports efforts among its member companies to achieve greater cooperation and coordination of activities and sponsors , providing a comprehensive view of cultural activities. Under the leadership of Executive Director Norma Kaplan since fall of 2011, the Cultural Center is currently undergoing a planning process to reshape and further advance the arts community in New Brunswick.

Hub City Sounds is sponsored by The City of New Brunswick, New Brunswick Recreation Department, The Civic League of Greater New Brunswick, New Brunswick City Market, New Brunswick Tomorrow, Johnson and Johnson, and New Millennium Bank.

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