This weekend in East River Park, a group of longtime neighborhood residents are putting on a free concert — it’s the third annual “Reunion of the LES Bands.” Among the acts set to perform: Robbie & Gary Z’s 70’s Rock and R&B Revue (pictured), the New Funk Generation with Denis Elmore, Fuzion (a second generation jazz band) and Gospel Flair from Samuel Glendall Wright.
We were introduced to Darcel Kennedy, one of the event planners, by City Councilmember Margaret Chin. In an email message, Darcel explained why her new group, LES Creative People in Action, decided to organize the reunion:
As residents who were born, raised, and/or still living in the developments that frame the Lower East Side… along the FDR Drive, we grew up with the acts that we showcase or we are introducing the audience to new generations of performers from these families. This event appeals to everyone who knows these artists, from the great-grandmother to the toddler. It’s important to do this to bring back a tradition we were fortunate to have as teens: The bands that were gracious to volunteer for our first two shows in 2008 and 2009 are the performing legends from our community… It’s an honor to re-establish our musical culture as we had in the 70s when our friends living in these homes would perform throughout the public parks and grounds of the following public housing and other apartment developments in the area: Smith Houses; Rutgers Houses; LaGuardia Houses; Vladeck Houses; Gompers Houses; Baruch Houses; Lilian Wald Houses; Jacob Riis Houses; Masyrk Towers, and Gouveneur Gardens. Many of the bands eventually experienced success, earning record deals or being opening acts for established popular artists of the time.
The Reunion of the LES Bands will be held Saturday from 2-6pm at the Jackson Park Ampitheater (the East River Park bandshell), located near FDR Drive and Grand Street. If you would like more information, email Darcel at: firstname.lastname@example.org.