Madison Square Park

Every year NYC's Madison Square Park, located at 23rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues, hosts a series of free "Oval Lawn Series" concerts in the summer. This year is no different...

Concerts take place rain or shine, each Wednesday from June 19 to August 7

The 2013 Lineup:
June 19 - Suzanne Vega
June 26 - Anat Cohen Quartet
July 3 - The Grascals / Joy Kills Sorrow
July 10 - René Marie's "Experiment in Truth"
July 17 - Ben Sollee
July 24 - Dafnis Prieto Sextet / Yosvany Terry Quintet
July 31 - Erin McKeown / Lake Street Dive
August 7 - Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk

And here are the official bios:

June 19
Suzanne Vega I 7pm

Suzanne Vega kicks off the 2013 Mad. Sq. Music: Oval Lawn Series. Vega is an American singer-songwriter of rare poetic genius and emerged as a leading figure of the folk-music revival of the early 1980s. Bearing the stamp of a masterful storyteller who "observed the world with a clinically poetic eye," Suzanne's songs have always tended to focus on city life, ordinary people and real world subjects. Notably succinct and understated, often cerebral but also streetwise, her lyrics invite multiple interpretations. Vega's musical influences and favorites include Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Laura Nyro and The Smiths. Her profound insight into the basics of human existence has earned her followers of all ages and walks of life. Vega was a staple at Lilith Fair since she performed as the very first artist and continued to frequent the festival throughout her career. Suzanne's neo-folk style has speared the female, acoustic, folk-pop singer-songwriter movement that would include the likes of Tracy Chapman, Shawn Colvin, and the Indigo Girls. Vega has continued to top the Billboard charts and won a Grammy Award for best album package including album cover, graphic arts and photography in 1990 for Days of Open Hand. Vega is "widely regarded as one of the most brilliant songwriters of her generation," (Biography Magazine).

June 26
Anat Cohen Quartet I 7pm

Clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen has won hearts and minds the world over with her expressive virtuosity and delightful stage presence. Anat has been voted Clarinetist of the Year six years in a row by the Jazz Journalists Association, as well as winning 2012's Multi-Reeds Player of the Year award. Not to mention her topping the lists of critics and readers polls in DownBeat magazine several years running. Anat has toured the world with her quartet and performed in profound centers across the country. As the Chicago Tribune states, "The lyric beauty of her tone, easy fluidity of her technique and extroverted manner of her delivery make this music accessible to all."

July 3
The Grascals I 6pm

The Grascals are among the most beloved and acclaimed bands on today's bluegrass scene, having won SPBGMA's Bluegrass Band of the Year award in 2010, the International Bluegrass Music Association's Emerging Artist of the Year award in 2005 and earning its Entertainer of the Year honor for both 2006 and 2007. Vocally, the trio of Terry Eldredge, Jamie Johnson and Terry Smith are tighter than ever, cutting loose on driving solo vocals andsoaring trios with equal fire and passion. As an instrumental unit, The Grascals have never sounded sharper, with mandolin ace Danny Roberts, fiddler Jeremy Abshire and banjo player Kristin Scott Benson leading the charge. As a result, their cutting-edge modern bluegrass is delivered with a deep knowledge of, and admiration for, the work of the music's founding fathers. Timely yet timeless, The Grascals make music that is entirely relevant to the here and now, yet immersed in traditional values of soul and musicianship.

Joy Kills Sorrow
Joy Kills Sorrow brings together an eclectic mix of musicians who each have classical and/or jazz conservatory training, though collectively, they ambitiously utilize their years of study to hone a new acoustic territory yet discovered by many of today's top artists. It's an amalgamation of lamenting music of the heartland, singular stories of heartache and laughter, beautiful string arrangements, and five musicians who grew up listening to indie-rock, jazz, and pop music that churn out impressive tunes with an incredibly contemporary sensibility. This Boston-based string band favors a more unpredictable approach relying on musical chemistry and improvisation. Hence the title oftheir sophomore album, This Unknown Science. All of the members have been touted as virtuosos, and they effortlessly hunt for unexpected outcomes and new discoveries.

July 10
Rene Marie's "Experiment in Truth" I 7pm

Rene Marie, the award winning singer whose style incorporates elements of jazz, soul, blues and gospel, has quickly become a heroine to many; a woman of great strength exuding stamina and compassion; often explaining how finding her voice and self through singing gave her the courage to leave an abusive marriage. Releasing Experiment in Truth in 2007 as a self-produced and self-released album with Kevin Bales (piano), Rodney Jordan (bass), Quentin Baxter (drums) recorded within a recital hall at the College of Charleston, South Carolina. The concept behind the project was to create authentic live sound without stopping or starting countless times, recording 11 songs for the unique album. Rene Marie has received several awards throughout her career including Best International Jazz Vocal CD (besting Cassandra Wilson and Joni Mitchell) by the Academie Du Jazz (Paris, France). She has graced the Billboard charts multiple times propelling her to headliner status at major festivals in the US &abroad including the prestigious Women In Jazz Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, the Edinburgh Jazz Festival (Scotland), Shanghai Jazz Festival (China) among many others.

July 17
Ben Sollee I 7pm

Ben Sollee, a Kentucky native, known for his thrilling cello-playing that incorporates new techniques to create a unique mix of folk, bluegrass, jazz and R&B. Sollee possesses rough, smooth-smoky vocal stylings and a knack for intricate arrangements that has brought about comparisons to Sufjan Stevens. Sollee shares himself completely with his audience, whether it is personal lyrics, or his commitment to the environment. In 2007 NPR's Morning Edition named him one of the Top Ten Unknown Artists of the Year and one year later, he released an EP of his own material, If You're Gonna Lead My Country, and followed it with a full-length album named Learning to Bend. In 2010 and 2012, Ben Sollee made it to the Top HeatseekersBillboard charts with Half Made Men and Dear Companion. Sollee can often be found riding a bicycle to his concerts (cello strapped to the back), which have become legendary for their intimacy.

July 24
Dafnis Prieto Sextet I 6pm

Cuban born drum virtuoso Dafnis Prieto is joining the Mad. Sq. stage with his accomplished sextet including Ralph Alessi (trumpet), Felipe Lamoglia (alto/soprano saxophones), Manuel Valera (piano), and Johannes Weidenmueller (bass). The Wall Street Journal says, "[Prieto] has transformed Afro-Cuban rhythms ... These pieces are emotionally charged and stylistically diverse, carried along not just by rhythm but also through lovely harmonized passages, horn fanfares, and powerfully conjured moods." Prieto has served on the Music Faculty at NYU since 2005, toured Europe with the groundbreaking group Columna B and was the recipient of a 2011 MacArthur "genius grant."

Yosvany Terry Quintet
Cuban saxophonist Yosvany Terry has absorbed and incorporated American jazz traditions with his own Afro-Cuban roots to produce compositions and solo work that flow from the rhythmic and hard driving avant-garde to sweet sounding lyricism. His voice and style are unique and complex, and with his new Quintet, he has married Cuban and American musical traditions to create a new and exciting sound. The Quintet is comprised of Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet), Osmany Paredes (piano), Yunior Terry (bass), Justin Brown (drums). Time Out New York says, "like James Carter, Cuban saxophonist Yosvany Terry has a voice on several axes, but alto is his specialty. He's capable of making Afro-Cuban jazz seem folksy and modernistic all at once."

July 31
Erin McKeown I 6pm

Erin McKeown has been touring the globe for the last 12 years as a writer, performer, and multi-instrumentalist with eight full-length records and three EPs under her belt. McKeown's compelling and energy-packed stage show teamed with her seemingly effortless ability to bridge genres has garnered her international acclaim. She regularly collaborates and performs with her peers Andrew Bird, Anais Mitchell, Ben Sollee, Carrie Rodriguez, Mike Doughty, Amos Lee, and Josh Ritter. She has also performed at many of the world's esteemed music festivals including Bonnaroo, Newport Folk, Glastonbury, and Oxegen. "Her playing is so muscular, her arrangements so well conceived that she succeeds brilliantly. As with all truly great guitarists, the wonder is less in her chops than her choices," (Boston Globe).

Lake Street Dive
Composed of drummer Mike Calabrese, bassist Bridget Kearney, vocalist Rachael Price, and trumpet-wielding guitarist Mike "McDuck" Olson, Lake Street Dive encompasses a myriad of possibilities within its members' collective experiences, and the resultant music is a vivid, largely acoustic, groove-driven strain of indie-pop. Lake Street Dive makes the most of pop music virtues: solid, evocative song craft; propulsive grooves; and Price's disarming, forthright vocals. However, it's a personal strain of pop that is refracted through the band members' rich backgrounds: a sinewy Motown bass line is reborn with woody heft on Kearney's upright, Calabrese's drumming mixes timekeeping with more adventurous jazz-inflected outbursts, McDuck's nimble trumpet is an unexpectedly warm counterpoint to Price's singing. It all makes for a sound with familiar roots, but with a slant that is entirely their own.

August 7
Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk I 7pm

A decade evolved from their debut at 2003's New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Dumpstaphunk offers fans an unforgettable live experience steeped in the Big Easy tradition of a good time. The quintet features Ivan Neville on vocals, B3 and Clav, the double bass attack and soulful voices of Tony Hall and Nick Daniels III, Ian Neville on guitar, and the monster addition of Nikki Glaspie on drums and vocals. From annual performances at New Orleans' Jazz Fest -- "The colossal low end and filthy grooves they threw down from the Gentilly Stage must have set a Jazz Fest record for baddest bass jams ever." (Bass Player Magazine, 2012) -- to music rooms and festivals across the nation (Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, All Good, High Sierra, Summer Camp, Hangout, Jam Cruise and Outside Lands), Dumpstaphunk continues to spread an unmistakably New Orleans groove with hard-hitting performances that dare listeners not to move. Dumpstaphunk's summer 2013 release, Dirty Word, re-imagines their genre, holding true to the opinionated, vintage funk of Sly & the Family Stone and Parliament Funkadelic, but with a modern edge that forays into gospel, blues, second-line, R&B and straight-up rock n' roll. True to New Orleans tradition, Dumpsta's friends and family Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, Rebirth Brass Band, Skerik, the Grooveline Horns, Art Neville, Ani DiFranco and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers kick the Dirty Word sessions up a notch.