When the Glen Cove Business Improvement District originated the series in 1997, then known as Jazz in the Square, the plan was to attract people and art to the downtown. It all began with local musicians entertaining modest crowds that would gather in the courtyard at the intersection of Glen and School Streets. Now, with the help of corporate sponsors, including Bethpage Federal Credit Union and Old Westbury Web Radio, OWWR, it has become standard practice to close busy streets to traffic to accommodate overflow crowds who flock to see headline acts like Long Island’s own Richie Cannata and Jimmy Webb.
Downtown Sounds kicks off the season with a bang for the July 4th weekend! One would think that Sly Stone and Martha Reeves might have also been referring to Downtown Sounds when they sang “Hot Fun in the Summertime” and “Dancin’ in the Streets.” Indeed, for nine weeks every summer, Glen Cove comes alive with cool tunes that offset the rising temperature.
This year will be no exception when Swingtime Big Band takes the stage on July 3rd. Using a combination of reeds, brass and rhythm, this unique show features music that defined the American pre-rock era. Tribute bands are also well received with recent performances by “The Beatles” and “Beach Boys” immediately coming to mind. This year, the Glimmer Twins will perform the music of the Rolling Stones on July 10th, Los Cintron will pay tribute to The Gypsy Kings on July 17th and homage will be paid to The Jersey Boys on August 21st. What is more, reggae music will be front and center on August 7th; however, in this case, it will be the real deal as The Meditations will be featured. Formed in 1974, this authentic Jamaican band has sung back-up for Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff along with releasing several studio albums. Their resume also includes a 2014 performance at Downtown Sounds that was very much enjoyed by all of the “Rastafarians” in attendance.
In addition to world-renowned artists like John Oates and Jimmy Webb, the list of musicians who have performed at Downtown Sounds reads like a who’s-who of the Long Island music scene. This includes Glen Cove’s own Marvin Floyd and his niece, Grammy winning pop star Ashanti. Floyd will be featured this year on July 24th. Three weeks later, legendary sax player Richie Cannata will once again electrify the Village Square stage. Also a Glen Cove resident, Cannata’s annual August performance usually draws the largest crowd and Richie delights his fellow Glen Covers by bringing special musical guests. In the past, these have included rising-star son Eren and former Yankee centerfielder and current jazz guitarist Bernie Williams, who drew the largest crowd to date. Hard-driving, powerful Certicroots band MacTalla Mor will headline this year on July 31st.
To regular Downtown Sounds attendees, the act scheduled for the final show of 2015 will come as no surprise. It is only logical to close the season with the biggest party imaginable and the best way to do that is with the ultimate party crew, Soul Sound Review. For those keeping track, this high-energy Motown tribute band has performed six times at Downtown Sounds and after closing the past three seasons with knockout performances, they have staked their claim as the perennial final act.
Richie Cannata is known to say, “It’s all about the music,” and there is little doubt that Downtown Sounds brings that phrase to life. However, it is important to recognize that the Village Square would be silent on Friday nights in the summer if it were not for the contributions of many key players. “Business Improvement District Executive Director Francine Ferrante-Koehler and Executive Assistant Mary Jirsa are invaluable,” says Jeanine DiMenna, who is serving as the Downtown Sounds Chairperson once again this year.
A special thanks to Mayor Reggie Spinello and the City of Glen Cove, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, Garvies Point RXR, American Community Bank, North Shore LIJ Glen Cove Hospital and American Community Bank, Joseph Manfredi and the crew for SUNY Old Westbury Web Radio, Pat McLaughlin and his crew from PMB Audio, American Asphalt & Paving and all of the indefatigable volunteers that give effortlessly to make the concerts a great success!