Billy Valentino, Joey Cimino and Matt Gale of Finish This perform in Weehawken’s Hamilton Park. (Photo by Fermin Mendoza)
Lawn Chairs, Picnic Baskets, the NY Skyline and Free Music
By Sally Deering
On a recent Sunday afternoon, Hamilton Park on Boulevard East in Weehawken, with its breathtaking view of the New York Skyline, transformed from pastoral park to electric guitar-riffing rock concert with residents and visitors chilling on its great lawn.
The group rocking the crowd was Finish This, a local old school garage band that dates back to the 1970s when bandmates Joey Cimino, Billy Valentine, Mike Culhane, Mike Montanaro, John Forsdahl, Mike Waddle, and lead guitar Matt Gale’s dad were high school buddies in West New York. At Hamilton Park, the band, which knows more than 300 songs from all their years of gigging, performed a two-hour set of iconic 60s tunes like Wooly Bully and In the Midnight Hour.
Mike Montanaro recruits young fans to play
instruments at Hamilton Park
“The audience was great,” Cimino says after the show. “Whenever you see an audience from 2 –to-80 having a good time, you know its going great. That’s why we were the opening show. They wanted to get a good crowd – and they did.”
Finish This’ performance officially kicked-off the Hamilton Park 2017 Free Summer Concert Series happening every Sunday from 5-7 pm through Labor Day Weekend. After a break for July 4th, the series kicks off again on Sunday, July 9 with Swingadelic, followed by Big Mamou on July 16, Boulevard East Collective on July 23 and the Joe Ruddick Quartet on July 30. In August, it’s the Annie Minogue Band with opening act Violet on Aug. 6, Donna Coney Island and South Street Station on Aug. 13, Anthony Bez on Aug. 20, The Joni Project on Aug. 27 and Zaccai Curtis on Sept. 3.
Swingadelic performed at Hamilton Park
on Sun, July 9
The series, sponsored by Weehawken Mayor Richard F. Turner and the Town Council also runs in tandem with the Pershing Park Free Summer Concert Series beginning Wednesday, July 5 with Flamenco Latino and running every other Wednesday night featuring Joe Cimino’s Rubber Room on July 19, Weehawken Jazz All Stars on Aug 2, Maxima Alerta on Aug 16, and the final show of the series, the Weehawken Singer/Songwriter Night on Aug 30. (Pershing Park is located at the foot of Pershing Road on Weehawken’s waterfront.)
Further down along the Hudson on Weehawken’s waterfront, the Hudson River Performing Arts Center (HRPAC) at Lincoln Harbor Park near the Chart House restaurant is also hosting its summer-long concert series – also on Wednesdays at 7 pm – and it features some hot acts like the Cumbia River Band, singer Alicia Olatuja, The Hillbenders presenting The Who’s TOMMY; and Pedro Cortes Flamenco Soul.
Cumbia River Band performs at
Lincoln Harbor Park on Wed, July 12
“For 14 years, Summer Concerts on the Hudson has presented world class artists in concerts that are free of charge to the public,” Bruce Sherman, HRPAC’s executive director says. “What could be better than listening to great music on a beautiful summer evening in a spectacular riverfront setting!”
Three venues featuring 20 acts. It’s been a huge undertaking, Weehawken Recreation Supervisor Donna Daly says. Daly and the Recreation Department staff worked diligently behind-the-scenes to make it all happen.
“Community events like these bring people together,” Daly says. “It’s great music, and its all free.”
Singer Alicia Olatuja
performs Wed, July 26
at Lincoln Harbor Park
HERE’S THE LINE-UP
Hamilton Park Summer Concert Series
Sundays, 5-7 pm
Jul 16 –– Big Mamou. Influences are Buckwheat Zydeco to Gram Parsons, Clifton Chenier to The Louvin Brothers with a dash of Johnny Cash
Jul 23 –– Boulevard East Collective. Bassist Rob Rolling with vocalist Caroline Guglielmi and Tino Stewart, guitarist Jim Savitt and drummer Paul Pizzuti
Jul 30 — Joe Ruddick Quartet. All that is jazz.
Aug 6 — The Annie Minogue Band ~ Opening Act Violet. Energizing Sound. Gutsy rock attitude
Aug 13 — Donna Coney Island & South Street Station. Classic rock with tinges of country
Aug 20 — Anthony Bez. Classical and flamenco guitarist
Aug 27 — The Joni Project. Fresh interpretations of Joni Mitchell’s legendary works
Sept 3 — Zaccai Curtis Quartet. Originals with Curtis Brothers Quartet
Pershing Park Concert Series
Wednesdays, 6-8 pm
Jul 19 — Joe Cimino’s Rubber Room. Unique mix of cover songs and originals
Aug 2 — Weehawken Jazz All Stars. Weehawken residents who have played with a Who’s Who of jazz
Aug 16 — Maxima Alerta. Known as one of Cuba’s best loved fusion bands
Aug 30 — Weehawken Singer/Songwriter Night. Original tunes performed by local musicians
Lincoln Harbor Park
Wednesdays @ 7 pm
WED, JULY 12 – The Cumbia River Band. Colombian Cumbia music from golden years of Latin American music
WED July 26 – Alicia Olatuja. Praised by The New York Times as “a singer with a strong and luscious tone …”
WED, AUG 9 – The Hillbenders Presenting the Who’s Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry. Tight harmonies and instrumental prowess
WED, AUG 23 – Pedro Cortes Flamenco Soul. Music and dance celebrating the art of Flamenco.
–Schedule compiled by Donna Daly
If you go
For more info, directions, and late breaking concert news and updates, check the HRPAC website hrpac.org or call the concert info line (201) 716-4540.