Category Archives: Concerts

Musical group Suenatron, the audience at the ¡Sabor! Latin Festival, and Sadie Marquardt with Empress Dance

(Top left) Musical group Suenatron at Levitt Pavilion Arlington (Top right) The ¡Sabor! Latin Festival at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks (Bottom) Sadie Marquardt with Empress Dance at the Taste of the Middle East Festival in Levitt Pavilion Denver

This past summer, Levitt venues across the country were a platform for cross-cultural celebrations and understanding, bringing different pockets of their communities together through cultural festivals and concerts. From Los Angeles to Bethlehem, Pa., Denver to Arlington, Texas, read how permanent Levitt venues created space to honor the diverse music and traditions of Latin, Middle Eastern, Tejano and Indigenous Mayan cultures.

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GRAMMY Award-winning blues sensation Ruthie Foster performs at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks on a recent August evening at the base of the iconic blast furnaces that once powered Bethlehem Steel.

GRAMMY Award-winning blues sensation Ruthie Foster performs at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks on a recent August evening at the base of the iconic blast furnaces that once powered Bethlehem Steel.

Two Sundays ago, echoes of Ruthie Foster’s smooth blues vocals invited me onto the Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks lawn during on an otherwise quiet evening. Following my 90-minute drive to Bethlehem, Pa., from my hometown of Freehold in New Jersey, my anticipation grew as towering blast furnaces—rusted remnants of Bethlehem Steel, known as “the ruins”—came into view, welcoming me to the historic manufacturing hub-turned-arts campus. As I arrived at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks, I noticed a lush green lawn filled with the energy of a music-loving audience who showed up for the performance despite dark gray clouds and scattered showers earlier in the day. From couples snuggled into folding chairs to families lined up at food and beverage stations, to volunteers galore, the excitement for Foster’s free, live show was palpable.

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DJ Rekha at Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts in Westport, CT in July 2021

DJ Rekha at Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts in Westport, CT in July 2021

“I love free shows that are for all ages. I just love it.”

This may sound surprising to hear from a DJ, someone we may picture in the exclusive and adult-centric nightlife industry, but Rekha Malhotra, named “Ambassador of Bhangra” by&nbspThe New York Times, has never been an ordinary DJ. DJ Rekha’s goal is to “challenge the norms of nightlife” and make spaces “as welcoming as possible to everyone.”

I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down backstage with DJ Rekha, just minutes before their show on Saturday, July 17, at the Levitt Pavilion in Westport, Conn, part of its 2021 season of free summer concerts. “It’s really exciting, they said, “it’s my 10th anniversary of being here. I love this gig, it’s one of my favorites,” they added, citing its open space and the enthusiasm of Levitt audiences “dancing literally barefoot on the grass” of the Westport lawn, surrounded by beautiful greenery and the picturesque Saugatuck River. Indeed, DJ Rekha’s infectious blend of bhangra, Hindi film music and hip-hop has been making people of all ages and ethnicities dance on Levitt lawns coast to coast, from Levitt Pavilion Westport where they had their first concert in 2011, to Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles, also in 2011.

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Left to right: Levitt AMP Utica at Kopernik Park in 2019, Bunny Swan performing for Levitt AMP Soldotna in 2019 and 2021, Celloquacious at Levitt AMP Gallup’s 2020 virtual series

Left to right: Levitt AMP Utica at Kopernik Park in 2019, Bunny Swan performing for Levitt AMP Soldotna in 2019 and 2021, Celloquacious at Levitt AMP Gallup’s 2020 virtual series

Levitt is all about embracing the power of free, live music to strengthen the social fabric of communities. In the towns of Gallup, New Mexico, Soldotna, Alaska and Utica, New York, the nonprofits behind their respective Levitt AMP Music Series are each embracing this mission wholeheartedly by encouraging authentic connections with their diverse communities on stage and off, from Navajo Nation tribal members to Eastern European and African refugees to Alaska Natives, creating an inclusive series where all members of their community feel welcome.  

“Diversity is going to look different in every community,” said Shanon Davis, Executive Director of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, the nonprofit behind the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series. These Levitt AMP grantees are working closely with their local communities to ensure greater representation that is equitable and culturally responsive. After the tragedies of the past year, particularly for communities of color, we’re heartened to see these Levitt AMP sites work towards healing by celebrating the diversity of their communities. 

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Three Levitt venues embrace Black Pride this June

Left to right: Larmani, Alise King, and Cherisse Scott (Levitt Shell Memphis)

Left to right: Larmani, Alise King, and Cherisse Scott (Levitt Shell Memphis)

This June we celebrate Pride Month, commemorating the beauty and diversity of queer people everywhere. In addition to being a time of celebration, Pride is also a time to reflect, learn about, and acknowledge those throughout history who have advocated for LGBTQ+ communities and advanced their rights. With June also being Black Music Month and the time of Juneteenth, we’re excited to dive into the intersectional history of Pride, and spotlight the POC pioneers as well as musicians who have championed the movement.

But first, be sure to mark your calendar for three intersectional Pride events within the Levitt network. Levitt Pavilion Denver is hosting a live concert on June 18th to kick off Denver’s 2021 Juneteenth Music Festival, headlining Black GRAMMY-winning R&B group 112. This year, the Juneteenth Music Festival collaborates with The Center on Colfax, an LGBTQ+ community center, to produce Denver’s first ever Black Pride. Look forward to events such as The Majestic Melanated Cabaret, featuring drag entertainers of color, a Drag Gospel Brunch, and The Strange Fruit of Black Excellence Ball, celebrating the Black community.

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Commemorating Juneteenth through music, storytelling, and education

Top left: Ranky Tanky, bottom left: Charlton Singleton, bottom right: Soul Rebels

Top left: Ranky Tanky, bottom left: Charlton Singleton, bottom right: Soul Rebels

On June 19, 1865, Black Americans living in Galveston, Texas rejoiced when they learned that the Civil War had ended and slavery had been abolished throughout the United States, over two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. At first called “Jubilee Day,” the day didn’t become known as Juneteenth until nearly a century later after gaining momentum during the Civil Rights Movement. Juneteenth serves as the oldest and most important Black holiday in American history and has since gained considerable recognition beyond the Black community. It is a day to celebrate Black freedom, the continual efforts towards racial justice, and the integral part that Black people had and continue to have in our country. Particularly during the past year, as the death of George Floyd reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality and racism, Juneteenth and the people it represents have taken on greater urgency and more widespread significance.

This week, as a part of the 2021 Juneteenth celebrations happening across the country, we’re proud to share that both permanent Levitt venues in Bethlehem, Dayton, Denver, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Sioux Falls, and Levitt AMP concert sites in Springfield, Ill., and Fort Smith, Ark., are partnering with local organizations and businesses to host concerts and festivals filled with live performances featuring Black artists, including Tank and the Bangas, Ranky Tanky and Henry & The Reggae Rockers among many others, as well as educational activities and historical discussions about Juneteenth. Read below for details on these can’t-miss events celebrating the significance of this day. Additionally, as Juneteenth falls in the same month that celebrates Pride and Black music, we’re excited to see that a number of Levitt venues are embracing intersectional themes and activities to illustrate how music is a unifying force, a way for diverse identities and communities to relate to one another.

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As the leaves start to change color, Levitt virtual concerts continue to bring a thrilling mix of music genres straight to you! Check out this month’s roundup of free shows presented by permanent Levitt venues across the nation, featuring artists like Abraham Alexander, Marcella and Her LoversRob Bair and more. With over 15 shows slated for October, get cozy and discover new music with a lively and eclectic selection of virtual concerts.

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Levitt network presents over 200 virtual concerts, attracts 1 million viewers, as the show went on(line)

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Levitt is all about bringing people together. About celebrating music, community and the power of the arts to fuel positive change. About strengthening the social fabric of our towns and cities. So back in March, when the COVID-19 pandemic brought much of American life to a halt, it struck at the heart of the Levitt mission. How could the national Levitt network of permanent outdoor music venues and Levitt AMP sites present concerts, each attracting hundreds and often times thousands of people on a typical night, given new public health restrictions on outdoor gatherings?

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From left to right: Copper Chief, Ruthie Foster, Bob Schneider

While summer may be winding down, free Levitt virtual concerts continue to bring a thrilling mix of music genres straight to you! Check out this month’s roundup of free shows presented by permanent Levitt venues across the nation, featuring artists like Ruthie Foster, Bob Schneider, Copper Chief and more. With 30 shows slated for September, discover new music with a lively and eclectic selection of virtual concerts.

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The Merced Open Air Theatre (MOAT) in Merced’s Applegate Park, future home to the Levitt AMP Merced Music Series

Tonight, the Levitt AMP Virtual Music Series continues with a new virtual concert featuring the upbeat sounds of California’s Central Valley Latin rock favorite Valley Wolf and a fusion of musical styles from faculty-led ensemble G Street Revolution, co-presented by University of California, Merced and the City of Merced – the dynamic team behind the Levitt AMP Merced Music Series. Tonight’s concert celebrates Merced’s ongoing efforts to revitalize an iconic amphitheater and fuel unity through the power of arts and free music. Tune in at 8pm ET/5pm PT at https://levittamp.org/virtual!

Creating and celebrating a shared identity

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Downtown Merced

Located in the heart of California’s sunny San Joaquin Valley, the city of Merced is home to just over 83,000 people. Known as the “Gateway to Yosemite,” this tranquil center of the Golden State is just two hours from San Francisco and Sacramento, and 90 minutes from the famed Yosemite National Park. Surrounded by lush natural beauty, Merced residents enjoy streams, scenic hiking trails, abundant parks, an extensive bike path system and the valley’s rich agricultural heritage. Merced has served as the processing and shipping hub for agricultural produce of the valley since its 1872 founding by the Central Pacific Railroad. In 2016, Merced County generated over $3.4 billion in produce, becoming the fifth-top producing county in California. Over the past 20 years, Merced’s local industries have expanded to include printing, warehouse distribution, packaging and most recently, higher education.

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