FirstWorks, a Providence-based nonprofit dedicated to connecting art with audiences, announced their 2023 Summer Beats Concert line-up today, presented in partnership with Roger Williams Park Conservancy and Providence Parks Department. FirstWorks’ two free outdoor concerts at the Roger Williams Park Bandstand feature the multigenerational Garifuna Collective with powerful Afro-Indigenous music from coastal Belize and Honduras on June 25, 2023, and explosive bhangra funk with Brooklyn-based band Red Baraat on July 23, 2023. For details visit https://firstworks.org.
“FirstWorks Summer Beatsconcerts give audiences a chance to experience groundbreaking global artists in one of Providence’s iconic outdoor settings,” said Kathleen Pletcher, FirstWorks Executive Artistic Director. “We launched our free outdoor concerts in the summer of 2020 to provide joy and connection to our community. We are thrilled to animate Roger Williams Park with world-class artistry for a fourth year in 2023.”
“I’m thrilled to be part of this partnership with FirstWorks and to be able to bring such a diverse lineup of performers each year,” said José Ramirez, Program Manager, Roger Williams Park Conservancy. “Thank you to the Providence Parks Department for allowing us the opportunity to activate such beautiful places here at Roger Williams Park for our park neighbors to enjoy as well as the community at large.”
The Belize-based Garifuna Collective kicks off the summer with powerful Afro-Indigenous music at the Roger Williams Park Bandstand on Sunday, June 25, 2023 at 6 p.m. This multi-generational music ensemble is the living embodiment of a unique Afro-Caribbean heritage. As representatives of the Garifuna people, a distinct language and cultural diaspora spanning the Central American coastline, these musicians harness the indomitable energy of their African and Indigenous ancestors. The Garifuna people are the descendants of an Afro-Indigenous population from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent who were exiled to the Honduran coast in the eighteenth century and subsequently moved to Belize.
The Garifuna Collective has performed in over 30 countries across five continents and was part of the most celebrated global albums of all time: the critically acclaimed “Wátina,” recipient of the Womex and BBC World Music Award and voted the Number One World Music Album of All Time by Amazon.
Garifuna Collective’s performances spark feverish dance floors over a foundation of ancestral beats, wielding the powerful sound of the two traditional Garifuna drums: the Primero and the Segunda. The musicians’ driving maracas, turtle shells, guitars and swinging bass grooves blend with powerful call-and-response vocals to tell stories through music, dance and traditional costume.
“The Garifuna Collective is about maintaining and growing the Garifuna cultural identity, in a conversation between generations and traditions, based on the concept of sharing, reciprocity, the spiritual principle of “Au bun, Amürü nu” (I for you and you for me),” said Tomás Ávila, FirstWorks Board Member and Associate Director Rhode Island Office of Diversity, Equity & Opportunity.
On June 25, members of Garifuna Collective will also teach a free, interactive workshop on Garifuna drums, rhythm, and culture from 4:00-5:00 p.m. before their performance at the Roger Williams Park Bandstand. The musicians will use the Primero and Segundo drums to teach the techniques and patterns that make up the Punta and Paranda rhythms and to share the history of the mixed free African, Indigenous and Caribbean ancestry that tells the story of the Garifuna people. The all-ages workshop will be conducted in English and Spanish and a limited number of drums will be available to workshop attendees.
Coming up next is the seven-piece dhol and brass band Red Baraat, hitting the Roger Williams Park Bandstand stage on Sunday, July 23, 2023 at 6 p.m. with explosive, multicultural dance music. The Brooklyn-based group was founded by dhol player Sunny Jain and has drawn worldwide accolades for its singular sound, a merging of hard-driving North Indian bhangra with elements of hip-hop, jazz and raw punk energy.
Red Baraat’s high-octane live shows have lit up iconic stages worldwide, from WOMAD to The White House. They have performed at Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, globalFEST, Lincoln Center, New Orleans Jazz Fest, Olympic Games and Providence’s own PVDFest (2016), communing with audiences in a joyful, near hedonistic celebration of music and dance. The band was created with a purposeful agenda to manifest joy and unity in all people.
“If we can unite people of all backgrounds and ethnicities to partake in the exuberance of life through the universal language of music, then life is that much sweeter,” said Jain.
For more information about free FirstWorks Summer Beats Concerts at the Roger Williams Park Bandstand visit https://firstworks.org.