New Orleans’ Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band and “BrassHouse” band Too Many Zooz will headline Durham Central Park’s new, free, 10-week Friday night concert series. A blend of local, regional and national bands, from salsa to second line, will perform at Durham Central Park from 6-8 p.m., June 23-August 25.
North Carolina salsa band Orquesta GarDel kicks off the series June 23, and Brooklyn’s Too Many Zooz brings a blend of electronica and brass music — what they coin as “BrassHouse” — June 30. Singer-songwriters will perform in July: Skylar Gudasz with special guest Kamara Thomas will perform July 7 and Cris Jacobs will perform July 14. Jacobs’ latest album received high praise from Rolling Stone, calling it “one of the best roots-soul records in a year that also produced a new album from Sturgill Simpson.” Triangle-based Afro-Brazilian band Caique Vidal & Batuque play July 21 and Jonathan Byrd & The Pickup Cowboy play July 28.
The series continues with Rebirth Brass Band, Aug. 4. North Carolina’s only touring Sacred Steel band, The Allen Boys, will perform Aug. 11; Be Steadwell, Aug. 18; and Laila Nur & The Love Riot Friday, Aug. 25. Steadwell, who is also a filmmaker, cites her influences as “Prince, Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, Sarah Vaughan, Sweet Honey In The Rock, Emily King, Bon Iver-those are the main ones.” Laila Nur, a Durhamite by way of New York City has been featured on NPR, AFROPUNK, Huffington Post and GLAAD.
The series is curated by Tess Mangum Ocaña, who works for Durham Central Park and heads up Durham production company Sonic Pie Productions.
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The concert series also will have free educational and hands-on opportunities before or after some of the performances. Gudasz and Thomas will conduct a free songwriting workshop for teen girls in partnership with Girls Rock NC, the morning of their Durham Central Park show. Caique Vidal, Teli Shabu and student drummers from Batalá will give a free Brazilian drumming workshop before the Caique Vidal & Batuque show. The LGBTQ Center of Durham will host a Q&A with Laila Nur after Laila Nur & The Love Riot’s show. The Art of Cool Project is a presenting partner for Too Many Zooz and Rebirth Brass Band.
Parking is free, in the lot beside Durham Central Park, and there are metered spaces along Foster Street which change to free parking meters after 7 p.m.
Picnics, blankets and folding chairs are welcome. Local food trucks and craft beer vendors will be on site. There are restrooms at Durham Central Park and the venue is wheelchair accessible. For more information, visit www.durhamcentralpark.org.