Chota Madre

The borough’s only private park is about to open its gates to the public – and the music and dancing are going to be awesome.

Sunnyside Gardens Park will host the Queens United International Party on Saturday, Sept. 8, starting at 3 p.m. Attendance is free, but there is a $10 suggested donation.

Food trucks, beer, and crafts activities are on the schedule, but the musical lineup is poised to steal the show.

The Not Club of NY will kick off the fun at 3:30 p.m. This group features the gypsy violin of Mario Forte, who recently won the prestigious Zbigniew Seifert International Jazz Violin Competition in Poland. Born in Algeria, but raised in France and Italy, Forte has developed a unique, eclectic  jazz style that mixes Arab, Brazilian, Mexican, Bulgarian, French, Andaluzan, and string influences. He’s also a high-energy showman who loves to entertain crowds.

Chota Madre, which performs African-Ecuadorian music, is set to take the stage at 5:30 p.m. Named after El Valle del Chota, a region known for its large number of inhabitants descend from slaves brought to Ecuador from Africa, this ensemble largely performs Bomba. This genre is characterized by the bomba drum, a barrel-like instrument that originally had goat or mule skins; the requinto guitar, which is smaller than a classic one and usually has six strings; the guiro, a hollow gourd that is played by rubbing a stick along its notches to create a ratchet sound; and vocals.

Then at about 7 p.m., choreographer Maguette Camara will offer a dance lesson. Born in Senegal, Camara has performed around the world, including at such venues as the Guggenheim Museum, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Epcot Theme Park at Walt Disney World Resort. He is currently on the faculties at The Ailey School and Barnard College.

The final scheduled act is The Brown Rice Family, a jamming group that favors Reggae, Ska, and Latin rhythms. Band members hail from Jamaica, Japan, Haiti, Nigeria, South Africa, and the United States. They are not actually related, but as the name suggests, they promote an organic approach to life and music. They even sell a soap made of natural ingredients from organic farmers.

Sunnyside Gardens Park, whose entrance is at 48-21 39th Ave., was established in 1926. Spread out over about five acres, it encompasses a ball field, track, skate ramp, sprinklers, three tennis courts, basketball courts, jungle gyms, and a picnic grove.

The members-only space invites the general public to community events a few times a year. After the Queens United International Party, the next open event will be the annual Oktoberfest: Sunnyside Flea Arts & Crafts Fair on Saturday, Oct. 6.

Credit for each image is in the caption.


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