Every summer at the band shell in Prospect Park (located 2 blocks from my house in Brooklyn), Celebrate Brooklyn puts on concerts up to four-five times a week. Everything from dance to movies to spoken word/theatre to music is showcased night after night. But the best thing about them? They’re free of charge (with a suggested donation of like five bucks). A lot of the acts are lesser known but every year they bring in a couple heavy hitters that bring thousands of people to the crowd. This year they had a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer in reggae artist Jimmy Cliff, Ghostface Killah with Camp Lo (You’ll hear more about the latter in a list I’m working on right now. The dudes are sick), Childish Gambino with Danny Brown and Schoolboy Q, Sigur Ros and M. Ward. Ghostface was on the 23rd of June and Childish was on the 26th but of course I didn’t know until after I had already booked my flight back to Utah on the 20th (I was only a little bitter about that…).
The first time I went to one of Celebrate Brooklyn’s shows I saw Savion Glover who is considered by most as the best tap dancer alive, if not ever (Dulé Hill, who plays Gus on Psych, was Glover’s understudy on Broadway. Fun Fact). I don’t remember most of the show but I vividly remember a part of it where everyone stopped playing except for him and the saxophonist. The sax would play a couple bars and then Glover would repeat the notes back with his feet. At the end of their 2-3 minute long jam session the sax would play quicker and shorter with the response coming back just as alive and energetic. They did this for a couple turns until it was one note back and forth then the whole band came back in to finish it off. To this day it is still one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.
In 2010, when I was living at home for the summer, Talib Kweli was scheduled to play CB with The Roots on a Sunday. The weekend shows tend to be more like festivals in that they have performances all day long and end after the sun goes down. I showed up at 3ish expecting to have to wait all day to hear both of the acts play, but as it turned out, The Roots played backup band to every artist. As the day went along there were about 1000 people there, give or take a couple hundred, laying on the grass in and outside the gated area vibing to the African Roots music that was playing.
Fast forward to 8pm. Talib is about to come on and they’ve stopped letting people in. People were jumping fences to get inside the gated area where there were already upwards of 5-6000 people standing up behind the couple hundred front row seats.
With The Roots backing him up, he goes into “Get By”, and what had previously resembled a normal weekend in the park with everyone grilling with their family and friends, turned into at least 10,000* people inside and out of the gates with their hands waving up and down as one unit. Just thinking about it gives me goose bumps.
Talib Kweli is back on the grind again. His new single “Push Thru” Ft. Curren$y and Kendrick Lamar was released yesterday and if it at all resembles what his upcoming album, Prisoner of Consciousness, will be like, then I am ecstatic.
*These numbers are an estimate. I’m not good at looking at a crowd and saying this is how many people are here. I’m not Aragorn, ok?
“Saturday sinners Sunday morning at the feet of the father” - Talib Kweli