During the city lockdown, the porch concerts at Ditmas Park started out as a A way to unite artists. These events, along with new series and festivals, have transformed this quiet neighborhood into an artistic hub.
One Sunday in July, right next to Newkirk Plaza in Brooklyn - between the yellow facade of a laundromat and the red awning of a bodega - the sweet melodies of a saxophone floated above a crowd of about 150 people.Haitian jazz guitarist Eddy Bourjolly presented the song "Complainte Paysanne" and the band sang the serenade in the street.
It was a launch event for Open Streets , a Sunday concert series that runs through the end of August in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. It is hosted by 5:00 p.m. Porch Concerts , one of the few groups that have established themselves in the Ditmas Park neighborhood since the start of the pandemic. Operation Gig , which connects local musicians to concertsts paid, started last July. Artmageddon , an art and music festival on porches and in gardens, saw its first edition in June.
As take-out cocktails - and (hopefully) outdoor birthday parties in freezing January - are becoming a thing of the past, with certain rituals taking place. are developed during the pandemic are here to stay in the city The burgeoning arts and music scene around Ditmas Park - an area tucked away in Flatbush, beneath Prospect Park - appears to be one of them.
Robert Elstein , an artist and public school teacher who organized Artmageddon, plans to hold his next edition in October. times, paintings and sculptures of groups like Flatbush Artists and Oye Studios were exposed in the courses and in the Newkirk Community Garden . The neighborhood has always had artists and musicians among its inhabitants, but due to the pandemic they are suddenly stuck there, Elstein said.
"Our world has moved from all over the world to our local community, no matter where we are," he said. "And because of the neighborhood spirit and the creativity of the people of Ditmas Park, we saw what we saw. Image A crowd on Newkirk Avenue watching the Playing for the Light Big Band in July. Credit ... Natalie Keyssar for le Hfrance.fr
The quiet and leafy district of Ditmas Park is better known for its Victorian houses than for his nude concerts (in fact, there's a dearth of them), but it has become a city music destination in 2020 thanks in part to nervous 70-year-old saxophonist Roy Nathanson.
As of April of last year, he played" Amazing Grace "from his second floor balcony at Ditmas Park every night at 5 p.m. sharp - a calming change from the constant howling of the sirens of the time. Soon a motley team of local musicians - including the pianist and composer Albert Marquès - took shape, and they joined him to play this hopeful hymn for 82 consecutive days .
Last May, when George Floyd was killed at Minneapolis, and New Yorkers took to the streets to protest police brutality, Marquès did too.
"I was playing for the community, we were doing all of these things, "he said in a video interview in Spain this month. " And I was going to the protests. So in my mind the two things had to connect somehow. "This connection has taken shape as a target Freedom First , a series of jazz concerts around New York that he organized around a cause, raising funds to support Keith LaMar, a death row inmate in Ohio who is fighting to be exonerated of a crime, he says he n ' did not commit .
Last summer, The 5 PM Porch Concerts rotated to host mostly jazz performances and started to offer outdoor lessons to young middle and high school musicians in June 2020. After mostly lying dormant during the winter, they started "conf on Sundays at 5pm on East 17th Street, will resume in mid- August. Image Member of a punk duo who performed. This Sunday concert series will run until the end of August. Credit ... Natalie Keyssar for Hfrance.fr Image Rhonasha George sings a song which she wrote at the event in July. Credit ... Natalie Keyssar for Hfrance.fr
Another group, Operation Gig, founded by Aaron Lisman in July 2020, has been offering live music at Ditmas Park, and paying local professional musicians for their work, for a year now. Especially during a pandemic, he said, we shouldn't be paying expect musicians to play for free.
There is no overhead for shows like these, and no agent reservation or venue. Each concert costs on average between $ 300 and $ 500 in crowdfunding (think Venmo),according to Lisman's estimate. The recording collected for a performance w about $ 1,000 - more than some music clubs in town pay. At a recent event, they announced a suggested donation of $ 10 per person, $ 20 per family. Many young families attend, as do the elderly.
"They are not going to Manhattan, period, let alone the clubs ", Lisman said. So this is kind of an untapped market, and it turns out that making music on the porches - which turns out really beautiful and special - is a perfect way to tap into this Marlet.
That same Sunday in July, music, folk and bright, could be heard on Buckingham Road, an area lined with beautiful old Victorians. A brigade of strollers was parked on the grass. Through the trees emerged a Japanese-style box covered in bright red stucco, trimmed with green forêt and built at the beginning of the 20th century. On the porch, a white haired couple held hands. Towards the close, Amy Bramhall from Copper Spoon Bakery presided over a table of free cupcakes, macaroons and cookies.
Gloria Fischer, owner of the house for 40 years, listened to the four songwriters in the circle at the Operation Gig event - Scott Stein, Andi Rae Healy, Jeff Litman and Bryan Dunn - from his front porch. Wearing tea shadow sunglasses with v framesiolettes, Fischer said that in the past year alone, she estimates that she has put on about 50 Operation Gig shows.
"I think it gave me an emotional boost," she said. "Because that was obviously such a breach " during the pandemic. Image A concert at Gloria Fischer's on Buckingham Road in Brooklyn this month. Credit ... Natalie Keyssar for Hfrance.fr
Operation Gig has sprouted ramifications: The violin player and singer Melody Allegra Berger took charge of a weekly Gig Bluegrass Sesh operation on Sunday at Stoop Sesh nearby in Park Slope .
" When you're the creative type in New York , you get used to having to adapt and have a lot of things at the same time, ”she said. "So it was like, 'Oh, well, all that revenue stream is gone. ' And we did it instead. Image These neighborhood concerts are popular with crowds of all ages. Credit ... Natalie Keyssar for Hfrance.fr Image The suggested donation, often sent via Venmo, is $ 10 for individuals and $ 20 for families. Credit ... Natalie Keyssar for Hfrance.fr
Last summer, 5 p.m. Porch Concerts started a outdoor course program , involving musicians neighborhood professionals to children aged 10 to 18. At the Open Streets event, which will make Newkirk Avenue a car-free zone on Sundays until the end of summer, the Multigenerational Playing for the Light Big Band performed, featuringfeaturing teachers alongside their students.
Aaron Scrimgeour, a melodica player, said the inspiration for the lessons came from "knowing the number of musicians who do different and interesting things who live in the neighborhood, and the number of kids who could access what I think is a really interesting opportunity. "
Among the students of Scrimgeour is pianist Rhonasha George, 15. At the Open Streets event, she sang a song that 'she had written, "Outside My Window ", her red firefighter braids to match her dress. The song comes from a poem George wrote with the informal music school last summer. On Zoom, teachers asked students to visualize what happened in the neighborhood around them during the pandemic.
For George, this meant to write onan old man in front of his window caught in a summer storm, without a coat or umbrella. But like the city itself, “he was fine. And he was actually stronger and healthier than anything, ”said George. And like the city, she added, “He knows how to get back. "