Songs of Summer

Songs of Summer

“We are hungry and thirsty for music,” and Make Music Day is the answer, says jazz/pop/soul artist Thabisa Rich, known by her stage name Thabisa. The annual summer solstice celebration, which brings performers from around the city and the region together for a full day of musicmaking, is coming up on Monday, June 21, with dozens of performances at venues across the city and beyond.

“Renaissance” is the theme for New Haven’s fourth foray into this international project, which started in France in 1982 with the idea that not just professionals but “anyone and everyone would be invited to join and play music,” according to the Make Music website. Fête de la Musique has since spread to more than 800 communities worldwide. Organizer Briana Williams calls New Haven’s version “an intentionally joyous space.”

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Listings of venues and performers—who can sign up to participate through Friday, June 18—will continue to be updated on the Make Music New Haven website. What follows here is just a sampling of the what, when and where.

Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ and Marrakech offer a big lineup of mini concerts in their outdoor performance space from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. including Finn W. Henry, Daredevil Frankie G, Robert Plumber, Nina Rose Sgro, Peterson Brothers, Quan Grant, Yas Performers, Anthony Borroughs and Ben Barton.

While vaccinations courtesy of the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center proceed onsite, the Wilson Branch Library hosts R&B singer-songwriter Yahni at 2:30 p.m. Organizers also promise activities for kids, a singalong and a harmonica set.

The second installment of Open Mic = Open Doors, a pilot program created by Thabisa for city youth that brings together mental health services, arts workshops, activism and a chance for young performers to take the mic themselves, will offer its Make Music Day session from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Edgewood Park, at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Ella T. Grasso Boulevard. Thabisa will also perform, followed by Rhythms of the Heart, a play-along CT Folk drum circle led by Billy Fischer, Michael Mils, Brian Jarawa and Paul McGuire.

Artist/producer Roy Studmire will record participating musicians on the New Haven Green from 3 to 6 p.m. in order to “mix and master a layered recording of every single person who wants to make music” and create “an EP for and by the city of New Haven.” The recording session will be followed at 6 p.m. by a Make Music Day Jam Session welcoming performers from every venue. Hosted by the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, a free reservation will guarantee you a spot.

Performers, venue owners and volunteers will cap off the day at organizer Arts Council of Greater New Haven’s 7 p.m. after-party on the roof of its Audubon Street offices, with performances by Fernanda Franco, djqt, Yexandra Diaz, Finn Henry, Briana Williams, Chad Browne Springer, Dylan McDonnell, Clifford Schloss and Alexis Robbins.

“I’m so grateful, excited and just so happy to be doing in-person events,” says Robbins, the artistic director of kamrDANCE and a local tap teacher. Robbins did a 30-minute livestream for the virtual Make Music New Haven event last year and danced live in 2019, using her tap shoes as percussion instruments. She sees Make Music Day as a win not only for audiences but also for musicians, who may find new connections and collaborators. “You really can’t put a price on people being able to get together and perform or create,” and, as it happens, Make Music New Haven doesn’t. All of the day’s performances, including additional shows at the Shubert, the Ely Center, Mitchell Library and beyond, are free to attend.

Make Music New Haven 2021
Monday, June 21

Written by Kathy Leonard Czepiel. Image features Thabisa.

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