Free concerts at Roger Williams Park Bandstand feature bhangra funk titans Red Baraat and multigenerational Garifuna Collective from Belize
Providence, RI—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 Beats concerts 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.
FirstWorks is a non-profit based in Providence, Rhode Island whose purpose is to build the cultural, educational and economic vitality of its community by engaging diverse audiences with world-class performing arts and education programs. Since 2004, FirstWorks festivals, performances and programs have attracted more than 700,000 participants. During its 2021-22 season, FirstWorks produced 52 arts education events reaching over 2,000 Rhode Island youth. New Virtual Learning online platforms furthered FirstWorks educational reach and engaged over 20,000 views from students, educators, and families. FirstWorks is the founding partner of PVDFest and has collaborated with the City of Providence to curate and produce the City’s free, signature arts celebration since 2015. In June 2022 the three-day festival drew 115,000 people downtown to experience local and world-class artistry across nine stages, resulting in deep economic impact within the City of Providence and generating over $3 million in total expenditures. The festival has employed over 4,000 artists since its beginning. Embracing collaboration, FirstWorks has fostered over 90 community partnerships across business, social service, government, arts and education sectors. Visit https://firstworks.org to learn more.
About Roger Williams Park Conservancy
The mission of the Roger Williams Park Conservancy is to sustain and enhance Roger Williams Park as a vibrant public space for all. An independent nonprofit organization, the Conservancy works in partnership with the City of Providence Parks Department to steward the Park, offer community programs, raise resources, coordinate marketing efforts, and plan for its long-term sustainability and enjoyment by the community. Visit https://rwpconservancy.org to learn more.