The Downtown Ithaca Alliance is proud to announce the zesty lineup for its CFCU Summer Concert Series, which kicks off at 6 p.m. on June 20 and continues until Sept. 12 at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Ithaca Commons. Some exceptions include the Wednesday show during the week of Grassroots Festival and a one-week hiatus for the Fourth of July.
The concerts will have a variety of different genres, ranging from Latin to jazz, hip-hop to soul and funk to pop. NEO Project will kick off this highly-anticipated series with its seven-piece, high energy music band that will have everyone dancing. Following them is August First, a Massachusetts-based band that celebrates the life of Grateful Dead vocalist, Jerry Garcia. They offer a style they define as "Blues-Grassicana," and will offer a toe-tapping performance the following week.
In honor of Independence Day, there will be a break in the series during the first week of July. For the July 11 performance, Empire Kings, an Ithaca based hip-hop group, will take to the stage. The group consists of Ave Mack, DJ Cdz Nuts, Shido, and Izzy B, who will start the show by creating a live painting on stage, accompanied by their DJ. After that will be a high energy set of music about current events.
El Rumbon will heat up the stage with hot sals tunes on July 17, with local favorite Kitestring rocking out on July 25. Kitestring will be playing hits from their recent album “Seven Years Luck.” In 2017, the group rocked the Summer Concert Series and won the Battle of the Bands finale. Noon Fifteen, a progressive Ithaca-based rock band, will open for Kitestring. Their songs are comprised of rich vocal harmonies, vintage keyboard and guitar tones, and funk-tinged bass and drum grooves.
New Paltz based band The Big Takeover will amaze concertgoers with their powerhouse of talent on Aug. 1. Their singer, Jamaican-born NeeNee Rushie, and their horn-powered band showcase the band’s deep fluency of reggae. Much of their music also gives hints to soul and Motown with an infectious brand of pop classicism.
Also during August, there will be a variety of performances from county singer Janet Batch, who will open for Rose & The Bros performance on Aug. 8. Rose & The Bros are an ensemble specializing in irresistible Zydeco and Cajun dance grooves resonating with vocal harmonies and crooning country roots. Maddy Walsh & the Blind Spots will perform on Aug. 15 and The Gunpoets will be a part of this series once again on Aug. 22.
Rounding out the lineup is Honey Cave, an Ithaca based string and harmony quartet, who will open for Staten Island-based hip-hop artist HeeSun Lee on Aug. 29. The Fall Creek Brass Band will take the penultimate spot on Sept. 5. Taking the final spot in the series on Sept. 12 will be The Comb Down, a group that specializes in the musical styles of a 1960s-1970s funk. The musicians of this group have been associated with such acts like John Brown’s Body, Dispatch, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, and Big Mean Sound Machine. Downtown Ithaca Alliance's special events director, Summer Keown, is excited about this year's performers.
“This year’s lineup is jam-packed with highly talented musicians and singers with diversified sounds,” Keown said. “You won’t want to miss a single show. We are truly grateful for CFCU and all of our other sponsors for helping to keep this crowd-pleasing tradition alive.”
Rain or shine, the concert will happen with The Range, above Autumn Leaves Used Books on the Commons, hosting any concerts affected by the weather. Seneca Beverage Corporation will offer a selection of refreshing beers at the concession stand along with wines from Wagner Vineyards. Please have your state ID ready when purchasing alcoholic beverages.
Reusable cups will be available for purchase during the concerts as a part of a fundraiser for the United Way. People can then be entered to win a grand prize at the final concert: tickets, courtesy of DSP Shows and an overnight stay at the Ithaca Marriott Downtown on the Commons. The entire concert series is being sponsored once again by CFCU, something Carolyn Hamaker of CFCU is glad to see returning.
“CFCU has been the main sponsor of the Downtown Ithaca Summer Concert Series for several years,” said Hamaker. “We believe in supporting the arts in our community and are excited for everyone to enjoy the wide variety of artists who will be performing at this year’s CFCU Downtown Ithaca Summer Concert Series. In the near future, we will be opening our new CFCU Transformation Center on the Ithaca Commons. We can’t wait to showcase this amazing new space. Be sure to stop in and see why we’re so excited.”
Other sponsors include Seneca Beverage Corporation, Ithaca Marriott Downtown on the Commons, City Centre Apartments, Wagner Vineyards, Maguire Family of Dealerships, and Cayuga Radio Group. More information about the summer concert series and other Downtown Ithaca summer events can be found online at Downtown Ithaca Alliance’s website or on their Facebook page. To listen to a selection of music from some of this year’s performers, check out the 2019 Summer Concert Series Playlist on Spotify.