SummerStage, the city’s largest performing arts festival, is marking its 30th anniversary with six-day mini festivals at eight local parks, including one on the Long Island City waterfront.
Queensbridge Park, located along Vernon Boulevard adjacent to the Queensboro Bridge, will host the event from July 14 to 19, featuring the “godfather of funk” George Clinton, local musicians, dance, theater and more.
“As an organization we are dedicated to working in traditionally underserved neighborhoods across the city,” said Heather Lubov, executive director of City Parks Foundation, which produces SummerStage. “By presenting artists and genres that reflect the cultures and communities in these parks, introducing disciplines such as dance or theater alongside musical performances, and providing all of this fantastic art free of charge, we are building new audiences and fostering a broader interest in the arts here in New York City.”
The musical group Chi-Lites will be kicking off the Queensbridge Park festival at 7 p.m. on July 14. The group originated from the ’70s Chicago R&B scene, and in 2000 were inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.
The following night, at 7 p.m., George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, will perform.
Local flavor will come to the park on July 16 with Large Professor (LP) a hip-hop songwriter, producer and DJ who comes from Flushing. Also performing that night is Marley Marl, a producer and DJ hailing from Queensbridge who has made a mark on the hip-hop world.
On July 17 and 18, the festival will shift gears to theater on Friday night and dance the following evening, featuring several collaborative and creative performers.
The final day of the festival will start with family-friendly programming from 4 to 7 p.m., including award-winning and critically-acclaimed jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, B-Love’s Hip Hop Jazzy Groove, and Karisma Jay and AbunDance.
That night the festival will close with a performance by hip-hop artist Pete Rock and a screening of “Time Is Illmatic.” The feature-length documentary examines the making of rapper Nas’ 1994 debut album “Illmatic” and his development as an artist and his influences — including a visit to his childhood home in Queensbridge.
SummerStage is also expanding its season to commemorate its 30th anniversary, from May 18 through Oct. 4, when it will offer more than 140 free music, dance, comedy, family and theater programs in 16 parks across all five boroughs.
In Queens, there will also be SummerStage events at Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Socrates Sculpture Park.
As part of the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival at Flushing Meadows on June 7, starting at 4 p.m. there will be three musical performances as part of SummerStage by singer Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires, Hollis Brown, a rock ‘n’ roll band formed by two Queens natives, and another Queens native, violinist Damien Escobar.
Later in that month, on June 24, The Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series featuring Kiri Deonarine, Ginger Costa-Jackson, John Moore and pianist Dan Saunders will come to Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City.
For more information about SummerStage events, visit www.summerstage.org.