I've been remiss in not advising readers of the free concerts sponsored by the Essex County Parks Department. I've seen many of them listed in the News 12 New Jersey calendar on cable (News 12 is a media sponsor of the concerts), but some were in parks I knew nothing about, not even what town or city they might be in. Grover Cleveland* Park? Kip's Castle Park? Eagle Rock Reservation? I didn't even know where Independence Park was until the Newarkology walking tour of the Ironbound. And tho the concert list speaks of "Monte Irvin Orange Park", the closest listing on the Parks page of the Essex County website is just plain "Orange Park".
Today's fotos are of two Essex County Parks. Here is a wide view of the southwest corner of Independence Park in the Ironbound.
Essex County this year sponsored, if I counted correctly from the list on the concerts webpage, 29 concerts in 16 county parks, including, early in the season, a Metropolitan Opera production of Faust in Brookdale Park (which apparently occupies parts of Montclair and Bloomfield). The "New Parks Page" contains a list of the parks with their locations in words, clickable to profiles and fotos of each park. There are also maps of the individual parks, but I see no overall county map showing all the parks in relation to municipal boundaries or major roadways. If you click on a given park's link, you can get driving directions, and instructions on what to enter into, say, Mapquest, Yahoo Maps, or Google Maps in order to get detailed directions from your own location. But some of us would find a locator map with municipal boundaries (which are absent from most Internet maps) a big plus.
Closer view of Independence Park, showing an adult pushing a kid very high on a swing.
In any case, the last three concerts this year are the 28th, 29th, and 31st of August. Again, as with NJPAC's website, the day of the week is not shown. Am I the only one to find that odd? This TUESDAY is the last free Essex County Parks concert this year within Newark, in the Ironbound. I was going to lift the text of the description from the website by hiliting and copying, but discover that the entire list is a picture, not text, so I can't do that. I'll type — something I've been doing for about 46 years; I'm pretty good at it now.
7pm at Riverbank Park: Serenade Under the Stars featuring La Fuerza PositivaUnlike the NJPAC website as to its free concerts, there is no clickable link to more information, as for instance who comprises La Fuerza Positiva or what kind of music they make. If it's your typical salsa or merengue band, I couldn't be less interested. I regard that stuff as possibly the very worst music in the Western world, and find even oom-pa-pah music easier to tolerate. A search on Google for "La Fuerza Positiva band" produced a website that describes the band thus:
Latin sensation La Fuerza Positiva, a Bronx-based salsa band that demonstrates the power of recovery. Their new album is complete — take a listen to the medley for a taste! * * *OK, I try to be fair-minded, so clicked on the purple (hi-fi) button in the middle column at the top of the page and listened to a 3-minute medley of their music. It's not exactly your typical salsa band. For one thing, some of the lyrics are sung in English, which all foreign musics will have to do to win a general American audience. I don't know that I want to travel five miles each way to hear that band, but, then, I'm not absolutely certain that is the band that is to play, since the Essex County concerts page did not give any more info than the group's name, nor a link to the page I found. Still, it seems likely it's the same group, so if you want a sample of what you'd likely hear Tuesday, listen to the online medley.
This Bronx-based Salsa band is on the move! Releasing their first album this year, La Fuerza Positiva has a classic sound with an R&B/Jazz flavor, burning up the dance floor every venue they play. Check out their medley, and get infused with "The Positive Force."
Here's a wide view of an area of Independence Park a little farther east of the last foto. What struck me about this park in general is how well occupied it was. The Essex County Parks closest to me (Vailsburg and West Side) are usually almost empty.
The concert on WEDNESDAY the 29th is in Orange. Would you believe that I again, from habit, tried to hilite and copy the text?! I shall type:
7pm Monte Irvin Orange Park: City of Orange presents a West Indian Caribbean concert featuring The Angels Caribbean BandI found an extensive website for that group, which is based in New York. The site loaded very slowly in AOL but much faster in MSIE. The band is "Indo-Caribbean", which means it mixes Asian Indian music with West Indian music. There are large "East Indian" communities in Guyana and Trinidad where such mixes flourish.
The website is very generous with the band's music. It offers 28 sound clips, as long as 5 or 6 minutes each, of various songs, which you can listen to online but also download for free. You can tend to other things on the computer while listening to these things in the background, and just go back to select another clip when the earlier one ends. I've been listening while drafting the text and fixing the fotos for today's blog entry.
This music is much more to my taste. I am very impressed, and might actually stir myself to get to wherever the heck "Monte Irvin Orange Park" is. The Parks website gives a general location for Orange Park, but if there is a particular area called "Monte Irvin", I'll have to locate it. If I'm late, as per usual, I can follow my ears.
Here's a close view from the foto above of another set of swings in Independence Park showing another kid flying very high. I remember from my childhood how exhilarating that was. I hope there is rubber matting around these swings.
"West Indian Caribbean" is a bit misleading for this band's music. Of the 28 audio clips on the website, all of which I listened to (and not as a chore), only 2 are at all like what one might imagine West Indian music to be, tho unexpected instruments, like a trumpet or sax, do pop up in some of the Indian songs. The bulk of the clips are dominantly Indian in style, and sung in an Indian language. Tho I liked just about all of them, one of the West Indian songs, "Trini to de Bone", was my favorite. For one thing, it's in English.
If I have one complaint about this terrific band, it is precisely that the Indian-style music is not in English, a bizarre failing. As India and the United States move closer, a meld of cultures is bound to develop, but in English. Americans are not about to learn Hindi, Gujarati, or Bengali.+If you haven't seen the wonderful Bollywood musical Bride and Prejudice, and you like Indian music, by all means get thee to a rental outlet or add it to your Netflix/Blockbuster list. As I recall, not all the lyrics in the film's songs are in English, but many are, which is more than can be said for the Indian-style songs I listened to at The Angels Caribbean Band's website.
Here's a view of spring bulbs flowering outside the main gate to Branch Brook Park, the oldest Essex County Park, because it is also the oldest county park in the United States.
The very last Essex County Parks Summer Concert this year, this coming FRIDAY, August 31st is described thus:
7:30pm at Eagle Rock Reservation: Nicholas Martini Foundation presents "That's Entertainment" featuring The Garden State Concert BandI find an apparent personal website for the GSBC, but it is almost two years out-of-date. The Nicholas Martini Foundation seems not to have a website, tho it is mentioned in a number of other organizations' websites. I find that Nicholas Martini was an attorney and politician in Passaic County.
I don't know what kind of music the GSCBand will be playing, but I get the impression it will be swing classics of the Big Band era. If you want to know for sure, you can call (973) 268-3500.
This last foto for today is of reeds in Branch Brook Park turned the color of wheat by winter's cold, as seen past the Ballantine Gateway this past spring.
* Grover Cleveland was born in Caldwell. Thus the name of that park, which spans the boundary between Caldwell and Essex Fells. Cleveland (you'd think he'd have been born in Ohio, huh?) was the only President of the United States born in New Jersey (to date). Woodrow Wilson was governor of New Jersey before being elected President, but he was born in Virginia. Cleveland is also the only President to serve two nonconsecutive terms. He's one of my least-favorite Presidents because he was opposed to geographic enlargement of the United States, even if areas annexed were ultimately to become states.