With Memorial Day behind us, summer has unofficially arrived and with it, that sweetest of summer pleasures: sitting outside on a balmy, long-stretching evening, listening to music. While New York takes up a lot of Afropop’s attention, we haven’t forgotten about the rest of North America, and we’ve done some hunting around for concerts and festivals that are bringing music from Africa and the African diaspora all the way from the redwood forests, back here to the New York island.
Obviously this list isn’t exhaustive—we didn’t even touch New Orleans, Austin, or the state of Tennessee—so if you know of a show, concert series, or festival that your fellow Afropop listeners should know about us, please hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sweet home Chicago has an amazing lineup again this year at Millennium Park‘s Summer Music Series downtown. All these concerts start at 6:30 p.m., and all of them are free:
June 13: Rodrigo Amarante / Leyla MaCalla
June 16: Nneka / Gina Chavez
June 27: Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra / Ecos del Pacifico
July 11: Femi Kuti and The Positive Force / ProbCause
July 18: King Sunny Ade / Ugochi and A.S.E.
Aug. 4: Sinkane / Mark de Clive-Lowe
Aug. 11: Mbongwana Star / Dos Santos Antibeat Orchestra
Up in Boston, Berklee College of Music has a Summer in the City series that includes a lot of Latin and Latin-influenced free music.
Summer in San Francisco has apocryphally been called the coldest winter of Mark Twain’s life. But the Bay Area is home to one of the earliest African music scenes in the U.S., and this summer has some hot and free offerings. Union Square alternates between tango, salsa and swing dancing over the summer.
There’s also a lovely free concert series at 2 p.m. Sundays at Stern Grove Festival:
June 19: Janelle Monáe, Midtown Social
July 24: Julieta Venegas, La Misa Negra
Aug. 14: Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor–Featuring Jamie Lidell, Luke Jenner, Money Mark, Sinkane, and special guests, plus openers Afrolicious.
Also, north of the Bay, Sierra Nevada World Music Festival 2016 runs June 17-19 in Boonville, CA.
In our neighbor to the north, in Montreal, Festival International Nuits d’Afrique runs July 12-24 with free and ticketed events. There’s so much good music in Montreal, including an International Jazz Festival that has much more than jazz, from June 29 to July 9. These concerts are, unfortunately, not free.
Out in Albuquerque, N.M., Sept. 23-24 is the Globalquerque! Festival. features, among many others, Zimbabwe’s Mokoomba.
And down in Washington D.C., it seems like most of the summer schedules still aren’t up. The federal government treats us pretty good, so we’re going to blame something else for this. The heat, probably.