SummerStage brings night of Haitian music to Springfield Park

DJ Hard Hitting plays some racine/roots music and gives a shoutout to his Haitian countrymen and women during his performance at Springfield Park.
Photo by Tequila Minsky
By Tequila Minsky

The City Parks Foundation SummerStage commenced a concert series July 5 in Springfield Park, where some music lovers relaxed on their lawn chairs, while others listened and danced along during the performances on a thick carpet of grass.

On a perfect summer evening, DJ Hard Hitting Harry warmed up the crowd spinning Haitian racine “roots” music, the amplified sounds drifting over the streets of Springfield Gardens. People came from all over the city — including Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan — to enjoy a night of music in the park. The traditional and adapted Haitian rhythms and melodies engaged the diverse crowd.

Playing Haitian, Afro-roots, and blues, singer and multi-instrumentalist Paul Beaubrun and his local band opened the evening.

The featured band, RAM — a nine-piece ensemble — traveled from Haiti to begin their own summer 2018 tour with the Springfield Park performance.

Ancient folkloric polyrhythms intertwined harmoniously with punk-rock guitar riffs — an influence from the band’s founders’ East Village days — and swinging Caribbean keyboard melodies combined for a unique sound.

RAM is named from the initials of founder Richard A. Morse who, with Lunise Morse — the lead singer, dancer and Morse’s wife — performed new songs as well as leading the audience while they danced and sang to favorites.

Decked all in white, Lunise mesmerized the crowd.

The band’s tour is also part of the launch for their latest album, “RAM 7 August 1791,” the group’s seventh first in over a decade.

They harnessed all the elements that came together and led to the country’s unprecedented founding: the African and the Creole, the rural and the urban, the Christian and the vodou, and the traditional and the exploratory. Two of the band’s musicians play vaksins, the distinctive multiple one-tone horns performed in street and carnival processions.

Musician and musicologist Ned Sublette, who’s been attending gigs since Morse started performing in the United States a good 24 years ago, was among those in attendance.

“RAM is a unique band, in Haiti and the world. Simply unique,” he said.

If you missed the Springfield Park series, not to worry. The City Parks Foundation SummerStage series continues with another Queens series — from July 12 to July 15 in Queensbridge Park, located on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City.

Two Colombian groups, Systems Solar and Very Be Careful, are slated to perform July 12, while the Calpull Mexican Dance Company was scheduled to take the stage Friday night from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Rising R&B star Ro James will perform Saturday following a theatrical performance of “The Big Good Wolf” by the CityParks PuppetMobile.

Several artists were on the ledger to perform Sunday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., including Jungle Brothers and Friends, O.C., and Kool DJ Red Alert, with special guests DJ Kool Flash and more.

SummerStage also has upcoming events in Central Park and other parks throughout New York City.

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