Music of the Heights

New York-based band Pistolera, which fuses traditional Mexican music with modern rock and pop, will perform at Travers Park Aug. 1. Photo by Erin Patrice O'Brien
By Shira Frager

A free concert series in Jackson Heights will reflect the abundant diversity of the neighborhood, providing audiences from all backgrounds an exciting way to spend the hot summer days.

The Otherground Festival, once known as Summer Sundays, is sponsored by Jackson Heights Beautification Group and brings in artists Sunday evenings through Aug. 22 at Travers Park, the only green space in the neighborhood.

The festival, presenting Brazilian drum corps Maracatu New York, DJ Nickodemus, Pistolera and other artists, is designed to celebrate the potpourri of residents in Queens.

“It’s a concert that was set up with various bands from around the world and fits in perfectly with Jackson Heights, because Jackson Heights is probably one of the most diverse areas of the city,” said Alfonso Quiroz, a concert volunteer and public relations spokesman.

According to Quiroz, the concert provides a “well-rounded group of performers” the chance to do so in a family-friendly atmosphere.

“Anyone and everyone in the neighborhood can join,” he said.

The revamped Otherground series will last longer this summer than the previous Summer Sundays.

“We felt a name change was a good way to rebrand the concerts and create some energy and excitement,” Quiroz said.

Volunteer programmer Phil Ballman said the concert was not created for the purpose of simply allowing audiences to enjoy music, but for them to recognize and appreciate the music as a solid representation of Queens’ diversity.

“The idea behind the programming was to try and offer groups to anyone walking by who is open to hearing something new, who likes music and has open ears,” said Ballman.

Ballman said the organization decided to add more events to the program this year because they had received some complaints that previous series were too short.

“In the past, they… were staggered throughout the summer,” said Ballman. “This hopefully creates the feeling of a series.” [or] “In the past, they [ran] a little and were staggered throughout the summer.”

Jackson Heights Beautification Group, which frequently hosts community-related events, recently sponsored activities such as the recent dog park ribbon cutting, historic weekend and a self-guided tour of a private interior garden.

If You Go

The Otherground Festival

Where: Travers Park, 34th Avenue between 77th Street and 78th Street, Jackson Heights

When: Sundays at 5 p.m.

July 18: Family Day featuring Baby Loves Salsa and DJ Nickodemus Spins For Kids

July 25: South Asian Dance Party with free dance lesson featuring very special guest DJ!

Aug. 1: Pistolera and Electric Kulintang

Aug. 8: Amir Elsaffar’s Salaam

Aug. 15: Red Baraat: Bangin’ bhangra and brass funk

For more: Search “Otherground” on Facebook.com

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