Astoria Music Now – Astoria Park
We Want The World And We Want It Now
Continued. Astoria Park / July 25, 2009. On Saturday afternoon I came into Astoria Park from 23rd Street around 2 o’clock. It was a warm breezy day with low humidity. Perfect for a swim, a picnic in the shade and listening to some good bands doing what they like to do. And so it was ... welcome to a journey back into Astoria Music Now 2009.
Outdoor Music Festivals – Astoria Park
The large park was speckled with people on blankets catching some rays while listening to music. Under the trees in the shade many congregated, seeking shelter from the hot sun. A few groups of couples and friends were tossing balls back and forth. Some of the women wore tight fitting mini dresses, displaying their youthful luminescence, while some of the men joined them by ripping off their shirts in a primal display of their manhood.
Woodstock? Perhaps not. That was forty years ago  when birth control was the latest pharmaceutical, out-of-wedlock sex was taboo, African Americans were rioting in the streets fighting for their rights as citizens, smoking cigarettes was 'cool' and rock 'n roll was only ten years old.
Astoria Music & Arts - Queens NY
Before covering the events of the day I spent a few minutes with Justin P. Finley, the Creative Director of the event. He was busy coordinating the performers for the four stage schedule and overseeing the concession area with the help of his Operations Director, Janene Otten. Justin told me that the intent of Astoria Music & Arts is to promote talented musicians in Astoria and this event is a part of that effort. This is the second year of the event, and the group was successful in getting the Queens Council of the Arts and the City Parks Foundation to provide funding. In the photo above from right to left: Janene, Justin, Cupcake, Hank, and sorry, didn't catch the name [name provided in opinion below]. We provide links to Astoria Music & Arts and all the acts we covered below.
Astoria Music Now - A New Scene In Astoria Park
People around the metro area are becoming increasingly aware that the music scene in Queens in general, and Astoria and Long Island City in particular, is one of the most vibrant in the area. I frequently bump into visitors from all five boroughs and Long Island who have started visiting Queens in search of music and other forms of entertainment.
For local residents there are numerous other Astoria Park public music and film venues as the CALDC [Central Astoria Local Development Corporation] sponsors concerts and movies throughout the summer. And in August of this year the park streets along the East River will be closed for one day each weekend where entertainment will be provided. For details on 'Taking Back The Streets' not just in Astoria Park but throughout the borough, see our August Queens Events section which will be posted on or before August 1st.
Fifty Bands And Acts – Astoria Music Now
The first group I listened to was the ‘Missing Teens’. The lead singer, James Call, wore a classic olive colored suit and matching tie on a very warm sunny day [see photo on front page]. His dark hipster sunglasses framed his red hair and complexion, as he brought bold energy and life to the main stage. Sitting in front of the group there was a long slender, well-dressed Lauren Bacall-like woman who adorned the group like a beautiful Greek statue [see photo to right]. One of the MT guitarists complemented and supported the verve of the James, while the other projected an impenetrable Euro coolness under the warm hot sun. Meanwhile in the background, the drummer supported the rest of the band.
The Missing Teens had a sound I hadn’t heard in a while. Some of the stuff sounded a bit like Devo from the ‘Whip It’ of the eighties. They’re a solid band that played original works, most of which was good enough to go national. And the crowd began moving to the music, in spite of the warmth of the day. Of the six or eight tunes they played, there was only one that I didn’t really like, but this statement applies to nearly every CD and album I own. You can use the link below to check them out and decide for yourself.
Outdoor Music - Cool Down In Astoria Park Swim Pool
Astoria Park provided the perfect venue for this event. The long sweeping hillside lawns running along the East River, nestled in between two classical bridges, provided the perfect setting to lounge, listen and pass away the day. And for those who came prepared there was the Olympic sized swimming pool [see center of photo to right]. As an aside, the pool was built in thirties as part of one of the Depression era public spending programs, through which a significant part of the Queens park infrastructure arose.
Hells Gate Bridge – A Stage In Astoria Park
Eventually I sauntered up the hill to the Hells Gate Stage. Naturally it received its name from Hells Gate Bridge which towers above it. The bridge was named for the passage it traverses which was once a difficult section to navigate in the East River.
The group ‘Suzy Sellout’ had just started playing as I arrived. They had a pop sound. Katherine Becker played the keyboard complemented by a bass player and a drummer. After she started playing, people began congregating along the long flowing hill from the Hells Gate Bridge to the northern tip of the park.
Astoria Music & Arts – Astoria Park
Eventually I began making my way back to the top of the hill near 23rd Street where I had entered. There, atop the hill, was the Lucky Mojo’s Stage. A group, Indaculture, was playing as I arrived. The stage was near a large shady tree which was surrounded by a lot of folks sitting around enjoying the music. I heard a couple of Indaculture's tunes before they split, one of which I would classify as classic rock, while the other was folk. Both done well, but again you can check it out yourself. And then came the belly dancers!
Dance Performance In Astoria Park Queens
So, four women dressed in middle eastern garb, with bare midriffs and bells on their hands and toes [I'm exaggerating a bit]. In the background there were three people beating the drums. Cling, clang, cling, clang, bum, bum, bum, and off they went. Their bright colorful costumes flowing in the warm summer air. The crowd grew larger as men and women from all around the park came to watch them dance. There were cameras galore, as the audience and local paparazzi photographed the spectacle of dance, color and sound. It was the pageantry of another culture on display in Astoria Park, and done with great success.
Astoria Music & Arts – Astoria NY
The music, the performances, the setting and even the weather - all conspired to make this a great event and a great day. I had to leave by early evening. The variety allowed the audience to seeks its own genres and follow its own interests. The hot sun gave way to the cool in the shade and the breeze from the East River also helped break the heat. Young men eventually quit tossing a ball back and forth, shirts still off in their primal display of manliness to the lovely young women sunbathing on the field. Woodstock? No, but it was a fun day of filled with good music.
Astoria Park / Astoria Music & Arts
Our compliments to Justin, Janene and the other organizers of Astoria Music & Arts for all of their hard work and the great success of the second annual Astoria Music Now event. Also thanks to the Queens Council of the Arts and City Parks Foundation for their help in funding this event. About the only thing missing, really, was having some good food and beverages available. I didn't notice much of anything in that direction and it would have enabled people who didn't bring their own to stay longer. In the photo to the right is Justin Finley of Astoria Music & Arts. Feel free to use the box at the bottom of this page to send a link to this article to a friend.
Click To View Additional Photos of Astoria Music Now 2009
Astoria Music Now, Astoria Park & Astoria Links
Click here to go to myspace pages for Astoria Music & Arts [another web address provided in opinion below]. Click here to go to the myspace page for the Missing Teens band. Click here to go to the myspace page for Suzy Sellout band. Click here to go to the myspace page of Indaculture band. Click here to go to the myspace page for Manhattan Tribal Belly Dancers.