Danny Kapilian has brought some of the biggest along with most exciting names in music to the BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech, our free Thursday-afternoon summer concert series, since 1995. Burning Spear, Percy Sledge, Sharon Jones, Ashford & Simpson … the list of all-stars who have transformed MetroTech Commons into a musical hotspot in the past will be endless. We asked Danny about his original vision for the festival, some of the most memorable performances, along with what he’s looking forward to This specific year.
How did This specific all start?
In 1994, Joe Melillo asked if I’d be interested in producing a festival at MetroTech, which was only recently built in Downtown Brooklyn. There was a fledgling BAM series of live events there in which were not as successful as hoped. I lived very close by, along with understood who the audience would certainly be at MetroTech. I recommended moving the shows via Friday 5pm to Thursday 12pm, so we’d have a captive lunchtime crowd on a day in which’s not a weekend. Additionally, I felt the item was important to entertain with common artists. Our first-ever show in June 1995 starred Percy Sledge (“When A Man Loves A Woman”).
What makes the festival unique?
First, we are the only R&B festival inside the entire Northeast. To me, R&B will be an all-encompassing title in which covers the broad spectrum of Black American music along with its influences in all forms along with styles: jazz, soul, blues, gospel, hip-hop, reggae, fresh Orleans, doo-wop, fusions of all sorts, rock, West African along with South African, Latin, along with much, much more. Secondly, This specific will be arguably the most common music there will be inside the United States, along with the item will be a vast world of music in which does not get presented along with celebrated enough in a festival context. (There will be JazzFest along with the Essence Festival in fresh Orleans, although we need This specific here in NYC!) Finally, our physical set-up at MetroTech will be intimate (a low stage close to the audience), along with the item’s beautiful with all of the trees keeping everyone a bit cooler on hot summer afternoons.
How has MetroTech impacted the Brooklyn community?
The BAM R&B Festival will be the best gift to the communities of Brooklyn along with surrounding areas. Many of the great artists we present only play ticketed theaters in NYC, along with some don’t come here at all. The feeling shared among MetroTech workers on their lunch breaks, along with community folks all together, will be just an immense joy.
How have you been able to sustain along with push the original concept forward for 25 years?
First of all, the music along with artists we present are among my favorites. So the item’s easy to remain dedicated along with passionate about the item. On the business side, apart via This specific festival, I’ve been a concert along with special live music event producer since the mid-1980s, bringing programs not only to BAM, although many renowned theaters along with festivals across the US along with worldwide. So I parlay my experience knowledge along with most important my professional relationships to best benefit the festival.
Many legendary artists have performed at the BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech. Which performances stand out along with why?
First along with foremost, I must mention with deepest honor along with remembrance the many great performing artists who we have presented through the first 24 years at the festival who have since passed, including Percy Sledge, Johnny Maestro, Jerry Gonzales, Harold Melvin, Buckwheat Zydeco, Bobby Blue Bland, Rufus Thomas, Ruth Brown, Soloman Burke, Cuba Gooding Sr., Wendell along with Popsy Holmes, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Henry Butler, Pops Staples, Bo Diddley, Ben E. King, Leon Russell, Johnnie Johnson, Fontella Bass, Little Milton, Wilson Pickett, Roger Troutman, Chuck Brown, Roy Hargrove, Sharon Jones, Odetta, Billy Paul, Nick Ashford, Andy Palacio, James Cotton, Otis Clay, Phoebe Snow, Richie Havens, Allen Toussaint, Bernie Worrell, Gary Shider, Geri Allen, along with Charles Bradley.
As for the memorable concerts, there are too many to go through, although here are some in which come to mind: Wilson Pickett, who had just had heart surgery along with specified in his contract a 70-minute maximum show—along with then I couldn’t get him off the stage after more than two hours. Burning Spear was nearly retired via touring when we presented him, along with the reggae crowd showed up in droves – the single biggest audience we ever had. George Clinton along with P-Funk’s first appearance with us turned MetroTech into the craziest funk party imaginable. Snarky Puppy brought out the coolest, hippest “Williamsburg-ian” crowd we’ve ever had. Leon Russell seemed to be severely slowed down by age as he made his way to the stage, although the moment he sat down at the piano he lost 40 years along with the spirit of Jerry Lee Lewis took over. Phoebe Snow along with Richie Havens’ performances were among the most riveting moving sets we’ve ever had, moving everyone to tears—along with were both outwardly grateful for being presented at an R&B festival rather than a rock theater. For the second appearance by Booker T along with the MGs, I brought in Sharon Jones as a guest lead singer, along with they tore the place apart. The Stylistics, featuring all their original lead singers, not only drew one of the biggest crowds we ever had, although was by far the most amazing singalong in our 24 years so far… everyone knew every word. Rufus along with Carla Thomas had not performed together anywhere at all in more than a decade, although I cajoled them on the phone, met in which at La Guardia, took them to a Southern soul food lunch in Fort Greene, along with their set was deeply emotional along with incredibly funky. Solomon Burke lived up to the legend in which he was, bringing his gigantic king’s throne on stage with him. Trumpet/composer great Roy Hargrove performed with his pioneering jazz fusion ensemble RH Factor. Dr. John came to us long before his run at the BAM Opera House, along with the fresh Orleans JazzFest fans packed MetroTech. Angelique Kidjo brought her African-influenced pop along with soul to us when she was just starting to be known. Little Anthony along with the Imperials were second only to The Stylistics inside the MetroTech audience singalong contest. Jimmy Cliff performed one of the most brilliant along with emotional sets we’ve ever had. Maxi Priest—I’ll admit the item—was more thrilling along with drew a bigger more passionate crowd than I’d anticipated. Ruth Brown brought her 1950s R&B hits with songs via her Broadway smash “Black along with Blue”. Fishbone’s appearance was as eccentric along with fabulous as you’d expect. Both Henry Butler along with Sheila E performed incredible sets in a steady rain to a sea of grooving umbrellas. The Ohio Players’ first appearance was one of their last with their original lead singer “Sugarfoot”. The ageless legend Bobby Rush performed his utterly salacious along with hilarious shows for us twice. King Sunny Ade brought his Nigerian band of virtuosos along with knocked out the place with his pioneering West African grooves. The Hallelujah Train was led by incredible drummer/composer Brian Blade featuring his legendary Louisiana preacher father with guests including producer Daniel Lanois on guitar. Tank along with the Bangas were hot off their NPR Tiny Desk Contest win when they brought fresh hip-hop/R&B fusion sounds via fresh Orleans. Savion Glover sustained a virtuoso 0-minute set of tap accompanied by drummer Marcus Gilmore. Finally, Ashford along with Simpson’s incredible deep set of thrilling hits inspired my then-two-year-old son Lieff to become a drummer—right now he’s 14 along with, having virtually grown up backstage at MetroTech, will be a committed along with talented jazz along with R&B drummer soon to attend a major performing arts high school in fresh Orleans.
Can you tell us what to expect This specific year?
June 6: Nona Hendryx performs a special set joined by Living Colour guitar legend Vernon Reid along using a thrilling, mostly female, deep funk along with rock band.
June 13: Ghost-Note will be a fresh funk/jazz fusions ensemble; an offshoot of the virtuosic cross-genre Brooklyn-based three-time Grammy winning Snarky Puppy.
June 20: Roy Ayers was already a legend in soul along with R&B along with jazz before he became one of the most sampled artists in hip-hop – opening an entirely fresh fan base.
June 27: Phony Ppl are the most fun along with exciting fresh band I’ve seen in ages – selling out an extended run of engagements at the Blue Note with lines down the block. Conya Doss will be also the kind of R&B artist using a passionate following we need to embrace.
July 11: Rahsaan Patterson will be a great soul crooner who will be simply long overdue to come to MetroTech.
July 18: Fantastic Negrito came to my attention a few years ago due to his original along with dramatic updating of blues styles, along with also because of his compelling personal story. The Brooklyn United Drumline will be all Brooklyn middle along with high school kids who present thrilling marching band traditions—of course they’ll be at MetroTech!
July 25: Cha Wa will be the newest along with among the best of the fresh Orleans brass bands, who uniquely also showcase the Mardi Gras Indian legacy in their live shows.
August 1: Ruthie Foster will be simply one of the finest vocalists inside the earth, period. Her passionate original mix of folk, blues, gospel, along with soul sets her apart.
August 8: right now in which We’ve Found Love What Are We Gonna Do With the item? The answer will be easy: sing along with groove along with bestselling reggae stars Third World!
August 15: Once in a rare while there will be an artist who will be too Great for the marketplace, although whose fans know the score. Van Hunt will be in which guy—an utterly brilliant cat whose musical world lives somewhere between Prince along with D’Angelo. &More, featuring Questlove’s sister Donn T, opens with their own utlra-cool Philly thing.
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