While most students were elsewhere, the New Haven Green was a hot spot for live music all summer long. Each Saturday night during the last three humid months, free live music on the Green entertained thousands. The summer-long concert series culminates on Saturday with a hip-hop extravaganza headlined by the alternative rap group The Roots.
Market New Haven, Inc., a non-profit organization that orchestrates events, publicity and advertising for the city of New Haven, will host the last of five installments of the summer concert series entitled Starry, Starry Saturday Night.
The Philadelphia-based group, The Roots, follows Majek Fashek, a Nigerian reggae artist, in the Saturday night line-up. The organic sound of The Roots, a six-member troupe who use live drummers and instrumentation instead of a DJ and samples to create their sound, will surely complement Fashek, known as the “King of African reggae.”
Ronelle Williams, communications director at Market New Haven, hopes this last concert will draw a large student crowd and will appeal to a diverse audience.
“We kept the Green jumping all summer, every Saturday. The closing event should be fantastic,” she said.
Remarkably, the concert series was blessed by a string of dry Saturday evenings, allowing each outdoor show to progress without rain interruptions. Past featured performers such as Harry Belafonte, Cubanismo, and Dar Williams drew thousands of fans. There was even free parking on Saturday nights in the Temple Street Garage provided by the New Haven Parking Authority.
The myriad musical styles represented in the past months have helped to fulfill Mayor John DeStefano’s and Market New Haven’s goal of catering to the diverse population of New Haven by bringing in folk, blues, latin, rock, and rap acts to perform. DeStefano’s stated wish to have 1 million people on the Green was not too far off. Williams estimates 500,000 people have attended the past events.
The reggae musician Mutabaruka was originally scheduled to open for The Roots, but he cancelled at the last minute.
The immense popularity of The Roots, especially after the success of their Grammy-winning collaboration with Erykah Badu on “You Got Me,” should attract a large audience of students, from Yale and other local universities, enticed by the zero-dollar charge. Still, like so many New Haven community events, awareness of Saturday’s festivities among Yalies was low.
“The Roots are playing for free?! When? Where?” one sophomore said after hearing of the coming show.
While the last weeks of true warmth gradually recede from the New Haven cityscape, this weekend’s concert promises a relaxing diversion on a starry – if slightly cooler – Saturday night.