August is pretty melancholy for music lovers around our neck of the woods. As the season comes to a close, we’re running out of lazy, hazy days and starlit nights to enjoy one-off cool concerts and hot fests like Central Park SummerStage and BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn! If you’re feeling a bit of summertime sadness, our well-tuned experts have curated your end-of-summer soundtrack at some of the city’s most renowned establishments. Care to join them? We’ll take care of tickets (or lay out a blanket on the lawn for those remaining moonlit shows).
As programming manager of the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, this arts enthusiast has her ears tuned to the eclectic sounds of the city.
MorleyRockwood Music Hall, 196 Allen Street (between East Houston and Stanton Streets), Lower East Side
Morley is one of the most powerful voices of this century. She has been a tireless advocate for peace and unity through music for most of her career (her TED talk and regular conflict-resolution workshops are popular testaments), and her inspirational songwriting, acoustic guitar playing, and soulful vocals draw from her experience bearing witness to suffering and beauty around the world. August 10, 6 p.m., Free
Live at the Gantries Presents: High & Mighty Brass BandGantry Plaza State Park, 4-09 47th Road, Long Island City
Gantry Plaza is a beautiful boardwalk area along the East River in up-and-coming Long Island City. Located pretty close to the giant Pepsi sign, this plaza is a gorgeous setting for a sunset concert series in August. Brooklyn’s favorite brass band takes over this evening with their loud, infectious dance party, which includes music from their roots in the NOLA brass band tradition, with a little dose of Afrobeat, funk, and hip-hop thrown in. August 15, 7 p.m., Free
James FranciesJazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street (between Lexington Avenue and Park Avenue South), Kips Bay
Young pianist James Francies finally gets his night to shine at the Standard. At just 20 years old, he has already won awards people wait their whole careers to garner and played with the best cats on the scene, who all see him as the next big piano voice of his generation. The artists he has joining him in this show—Steve Lehman on sax and Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums—are a testament to his place among the stars. August 16, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., $25
Los Van VanLehman Center for the Performing Arts, 250 Bedford Park Boulevard, Bronx
Los Van Van is one of the most important ensembles in Cuban music history. The band shaped the sound of Cuban pop music back in the 1960s, bringing the traditional charanga songs into conversation with American pop and rock influences. This historic show will feature the legendary Pedrito Calvo (the original singer of the band), along with Vanessa Formell, a member of the Afro-Latino musical dynasty. August 26, 8 p.m., $45–$100
Emilsen Pacheco With Bulla en el BarrioC’mon Everybody, 325 Franklin Avenue, Clinton Hill
The Colombian bullerengue master makes his U.S. debut on this tour, which will feature NYC-based bullerengue group Bulla en el Barrio. Bullerengue is a music and dance tradition from the Caribbean coast; Pacheco, a fisherman and machete maker by day, is one the most revered torchbearers of the tradition. It’s going to be a party, so be sure to wear clothes you can sweat in! August 26, 7:30 p.m., $10–$12
Writing about music for outlets including "The Village Voice” and Brooklyn Vegan is an impressive experience on its own…but this music expert (he attends around 200 live shows per year) has represented legendary artists of every genre, from the late Chuck Berry to Yo-Yo Ma.
They Might Be Giants: “Kids, Science, and Beyond”City Parks SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield (enter at East 69th Street and Fifth Avenue), Upper East Side
Nerd-rock superstars John Flansburgh and John Linnell have created dozens of quirky albums under the name They Might Be Giants. Some 30 years into their career, they’ve shifted handily into making children’s music; longtime fans might have a hard time hearing much of a difference. For this Family Day performance at SummerStage, hosted by Billy Childs of Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child Radio, TMBG will play a number of schoolhouse classics, presumably including “Why Does the Sun Shine,” “Istanbul Not Constantinople,” and “Robot Parade.” August 12, 2 p.m., Free
King YellowmanB.B. King Blues Club, 237 West 42nd Street (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue), Times Square
The violently ribald and spectacularly prolific King Yellowman is generally acknowledged as one of the foundational performers of contemporary dancehall reggae. Yellowman has been more or less continually toasting at clubs across the world since he went international in the early ’80s, even after extensive surgery on his jaw to combat cancer. His flow is understandably growlier and harsher since a procedure that removed much of his lower jaw but, even this late in his career, it’s worth catching him live. August 13, doors open at 7 p.m., $22.50
ICE at Mostly Mozart: “How Forests Think”Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center, 129 West 67th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue), Upper West Side
Getting a chance to see the International Contemporary Ensemble, covering the works of electronic pioneer Pauline Oliveros and excellent contemporary composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir, makes this an easy recommendation, but my real point of excitement here is the addition of soloist Wu Wei, whom I saw last year at Lincoln Center alongside mouth harpist Wang Li. Wei plays the sheng, a traditional Chinese woodwind instrument akin to a harmonica that sounds electronic and looks like a miniature church organ. Wei is a spectacular artist, and I’m very curious to hear how he integrates into the ensemble. August 14, 7:30 p.m., $30
Along with appearing inside the pages of “The Fader“ and “Time Out New York,” this vibrant culture guru created the one-of-a-kind immersive theatrical experience 8Players.
“Selma” With Live Score by Jason Moran and the Wordless Music OrchestraBRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!, Prospect Park Bandshell, Park Slope
Prospect Park screens the Martin Luther King mega-movie Selma outside for the summer. The Academy Award winner (for best original song) gained notoriety for its Oscar snubs, namely for director Ava DuVernay, but audiences can revisit its high quality here with a live score by MacArthur Grant recipient Jason Moran, a New York Times–noted “luminary of modern jazz.” August 10, 6:30 p.m., Free
#LALYTES Presents: “All a Dream”National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Williamsburg
Highly talented and solo hip-hop performance artist Latasha Alcindor brings All a Dream to National Sawdust. It details her life of trauma, survival, and outsider-dom “through a mosaic of live music, dance, and documentary” and looks to move audience members past typical involvement. It’s a musical memoir that wears its heart on its sleeve, melds art forms, and is certain to provoke thoughts about the shared human experience and what we each go through to get by. August 19, 10 p.m., $10–$15
The Songwriter’s Orchestra Featuring Broadway’s “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812”(Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street (between Sullivan and Thompson Streets), Greenwich Village
Cast members from Broadway’s soon-to-close immersive hit Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 reunite on the LPR stage with original material. Such performers as Brittain Ashford and Grace McLean will give songs they’ve written to 12 musicians onstage, who—along with the singers—will perform new arrangements of the tunes for the intimate crowd. August 21, 6:30 p.m., $15–$20