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Eliot School (Free and Eclectic) Schoolyard Summer Concert Series Kicks Off June 4

Last updated on May 28, 2023

The Eliot School Free Schoolyard Summer Concert Series kicks off June 4.

Held every Sunday at 5 pm from June 4 to September 24, the Eliot School of Fine & Applied Arts Free Schoolyard Summer Concert Series features a variety of music styles throughout the summer including reggae, R&B, soul, classical, jazz, hip-hop, Latin, Brazilian, and percussion. In total, 15 local musical groups will perform on the school’s lawn.

New this year, The Hive will provide a beer garden and food trucks will be featured throughout the summer. On particular dates there will also be free ice cream from FoMu and J.P. Licks.

The audience is invited to bring their own seating and settle in for the evening.

“We are thrilled to organize this concert series for our community and feature such wonderful local talent,” said Abigail Norman, Executive Director of the Eliot School of Fine & Applied Arts. “What started as a musical outlet for neighborhood musicians during COVID has transformed into a vibrant and thriving annual concert series.”

Concert Details

June 4: Dis n Dat Band (Neo-reggae)

Formed in 1999 by four-time Grammy-nominated Black Uhuru drummer ‘Rangotan and six-time steel pan champion Sista D, Dis n Dat incorporates Roots Reggae, Dance Hall, and R&B. Sounds of Jamaica and Trinidad rock the sounds of foundation reggae and steel pan. It’s ‘Neo-Reggae,’ taking reggae to a whole new level while maintaining the foundation sound that so many fans love. JP Licks is providing free ice cream.

June 11: Cocktail Hour (R&B, Neo-soul)

Cocktail Hour combines enchanted lyrics and percussion by Lady Enchantress (Eli Pabon) with trumpet, melodica, and more by Sound Chalice (David Szebeda). Lady Enchantress writes through the lens of a DiasBoricua (Puerto Rican not born on the island). Sound Chalice brings classical training and analog/virtual instrumentation. Together with special guests, their vibrant sound is influenced by Hip Hop, House/Dance, R&B, and jazz.

June 18: Rhombus (Collective improvisations)

Formed in 2007 by composer/pianist Brian Friedland, this six-piece ensemble fuses intricate compositions with bold collective improvisations. Influences combine the sonorities of modern jazz, the rhythmic complexities of Balkan music, the energy of rock, the experimentation of avant-garde improvisation, and the thematic development of classical music. To celebrate Fathers Day and Juneteenth, FoMu is providing free ice cream.

June 25: James Dargan: Familiar Songs (Black songs)

James Dargan, from North Carolina, now based in New York City, sings while composing, playing the violin, writing, and teaching on spirituals and other Black music. He is honored to walk in his family tradition of telling truthful stories, writing for Black singers, and currently writing two operas. Career highlights include solo work with The Boston Pops and operatic work with esperanza spalding and Wayne Shorter. He is also a founding member of the consortium Ring Shout.

July 9: Gordon Michaels: Unforgettable: Tribute to Nat King Cole (Classic standards)

This fabulous Boston performer has graced the stage with Patti LaBelle, James Taylor, Jennifer Holiday, Rod Stewart, Cissy Houston, and more. His powerful baritone voice and wide stylistic range is perfectly suited to the classics recorded by jazz singer Nat King Cole.

July 16: Jesse Taitt & Brian Friedland (2-piano jazz)

Jesse Taitt and Brian Friedland met teaching at Berklee College of Music. After hearing Taitt’s brilliance and fearless creativity during a department performance, Friedland knew he wanted to play duo together. Aside from teaching at Berklee and Dartmouth, Taitt plays with acclaimed drummer Tyson Jackson and many Boston jazz groups.

July 23: A Far Cry (Classical)

Described as a “world-wide phenomenon” by Boston’s WBUR, A Far Cry is a self-conducted, democratically-run orchestra with its leadership rotating among the players (“Criers”). With two Grammy nominations, A Far Cry has risen to the top of Billboard’s Traditional Classical Chart and was named Boston’s best classical ensemble by The Improper Bostonian. This season, their programs explore home and sense of place, love, and purposeful interaction, reinforcing the idea of a “world that listens.”

July 30: Jorge Perez-Albela/Keala Kumeheiwa/Brian Friedland (Jazz)

Last year, this trio played here as three quarters of the new Schoolyard Quartet. Their great chemistry builds exciting renditions of original music and jazz standards by a group that prizes joyful spontaneity.

August 6: Grooversity (World percussion)

Marcus Santos’ Grooversity drumming ensemble melds world rhythms into a highly engaging show that will make you sweat! Their special sound and energy is inspired by Marcus’ hometown of Bahia, Brazil and combines West African Kpanlogo, Brazilian Samba, Japanese Taiko, American Funk, and Hip Hop.

August 13: Cliff Notez (Hip-hop, soul, R&B)

Cliff Notez’s prolific mix of hip hop, jazz, folk, soul, and R&B has been likened to Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” blended with the paranoia of Radiohead’s Kid A. Their music reveals the repercussions of trauma, exposes realities of the Black experience, and shares an intimate journey towards healing. Lyrical themes juxtapose with uplifting sounds: bright horns, sparkling keys, snappy percussion, and glowing guitar. Uproxx dubbed Cliff “one of the most remarkable music figures in Boston,” as their influence extends far beyond the hip hop scene. Cliff Notez was named “Best Musician” and one of the “100 Most Influential Bostonians” by Boston Magazine and listed among the “50 Most Influential Bostonians” by Boston Common.

August 20: The Stan Strickland Group (Jazz)

Drawing on gospel, jazz and blue roots, with influences from Indian and Japanese flute and Native American chant, the Stan Strickland Band embarks on a sonic vision quest to awaken compassion for the rich complexities of the human spirit. Stan Strickland is an award-winning musician, actor, and educator, who has recorded extensively and performed globally with numerous notable musicians, including Herbie Mann, Pharaoh Sanders, and Yusef Lateef. Latin and jazz pianist Rebecca Cline improvises within the context of clave and Cuban piano styles.

August 27: Shavonne Brown (Soul)

Thrill to the sounds of this Boston-based singer/songwriter, a favorite at last year’s Eliot Schoolhouse Concerts. She’s performed primarily with her band Petrichor as a featured vocalist and was one of the first artists to headline a house session with Meraki. Shavonne comes from a gospel singing background. She hopes to create an experience for her audience that leaves them feeling loved, confident, and understood.

September 10: Catherine Bent/Rafael Barata/Brian Friedland (Brazilian)

Cellist Catherine Bent performs music inspired by her love of Brazilian music and percussionist Rafael Barata grew up playing in Brazil. Pianist Brian Friedland adds his own flair. All three have played together separately; they’re excited to hear what happens when they combine powers.

September 17: Jameo Latino (Latin jam)

Jameo is a musical jam, a reunion of musicians to have fun and improvise what they know by heart, what inspires them through life. It’s a Spanish Anglicism constructed in street language, a result of the constant intersection of Spanish and English musical languages. The action is the same: to experiment with sounds, rhythms, solos, and lyrics, forming a cohesive blend to be enjoyed by the audience, who will in turn participate. With Winfred Meadows (piano), Bernardo Hernández (bass), Tito Lugo (flute), Jorge Arce (percussion).

September 24: BOMBAntillana (Bomba)

Get up and dance! Through call-and-response songs and movements, BOMBAntillana engages all ages as active participants in a live Bomba experience. Born over 400 years ago in Boriken (the island known as Puerto Rico), originated on sugar cane plantations, and kept alive through oral tradition and secret gatherings, Bomba, like many AfroIndigenous art forms, continues to be a powerful means of creative expression, healing, resistance, community building, and celebration. To celebrate the closing the our season, FoMu is providing free ice cream. This final concert coincides with the Eliot School’s Faculty Artisan Showcase at Jamaica Plain Open Studios.