Picture the classic concert experience. The ceiling lights dim. The stage lights shine. The star emerges to a thunderous ovation. The music begins to play. And the crowd goes wild.
Though his musicians will have to rely on natural light for mood-setting, director Bruce Sherman and his Hudson River Performing Arts Company hope to capture some of that feeling as Weehawken’s annual free Summer Concerts on the Hudson get under way at Lincoln Harbor Park.
The free concerts, which have been a Weehawken mainstay for years, traditionally draw people from all walks of life, ranging from octogenarians and harried parents enjoying the music from their lawn chairs and blankets to small children dancing themselves into a frenzy in front of the stage.
And this year, Sherman has drawn on an equally diverse mix of performers to match his audience, with flamenco, violin, salsa, and Latin jazz artists all on the docket for the summer season.
“I love eclectic programming,” he said.
The Hudson Reporter newspapers are a co-sponsor of the concert series.
‘Big Band’ performs…Zappa?
First up on the schedule may be the season’s most interesting performer of them all.
At 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26, the Ed Palermo Big Band will take to the stage to kick off the concert series, performing the music of Frank Zappa, a man famous for his eclectic (and eccentric) performances.
Palermo, whose band boasts a repertoire of over 300 Zappa songs (according to Sherman), has performed with the best over the years, touring with Aretha Franklin, Tito Puente, and Tony Bennett, among others.
“I love playing Jersey and New York.”— Ed Palermo, Arranger and saxophonist-Ed Palermo’s Big Band
A fixture at the Bottom Line Nightclub in New York for years and a New Jersey resident, Palermo has developed a love for the area.
“It’s the best,” he said. “I love playing Jersey and New York.”
Palermo’s band is just the opening act in a star-studded series of concerts headed to Lincoln Harbor.
After Sherman plays on the 26th, the Little Johnny Riverso Salsa & Latin Jazz Orchestra will come to town on July 17.
A world-renowned bongo player, Rivero will bring Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Brian Lynch with him.
A Hudson County native himself, Rivero brings a Jersey flair to his Latin grooves, a fact that Sherman takes pride in, as performers in all five concerts this summer have a New Jersey connection.
Additionally, Rivero’s show will be one of three concerts exclusive only to Weehawken and the summer concert series.
Pedro Cortes’ August 14 Flamenco on the Hudson performance and August 26’s Broadway Under the Stars show will also be Weehawken exclusives.
But for now, the spotlight lies squarely on Palermo and his band, the first visitors slated to light up Weehawken’s night sky.
Locals have high expectations.
“It will be a beautiful summer day with gentle breezes,” said Peggy Stitzenberg, a perennial concert volunteer. “And the music’s going to be fabulous.”