Despite a soggy kickoff, Celebrate Brooklyn! is back in a big way. The free summer concert series always starts the season off with a crowd-pleaser, and this year’s honor went to the jazzy Norah Jones. The Prospect Park Bandshell has never seen so many umbrellas.
Prospect Park was founded back in 1867 by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, the same pair that designed Manhattan’s arguably more famous Central Park. Olmstead, however, has always maintained that Prospect Park is the superior of the two works; a sentiment current Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz would surely find agreeable. Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s finessing of term limit law, Markowitz remains a fixture of every major (and sometimes minor) Brooklyn social event.
“Norah Jones was born in Manhattan, raised in Texas, and has now returned to the creative cultural capital of the world: The Republic of Brooklyn, USA!” Markowitz knows how to give an introduction, though he dropped the “Republic” bit when he repurposed the same line from the aforementioned introduction at the Gala to the wider introduction at the top of the performance. Know your audience, I suppose.
Norah Jones mercifully began her set very close to on time, to the delight of her waterlogged fans. Jones is an enigmatic figure in the music industry. She’s young and pretty enough to style herself like your typical manic pixie dream girl, but she’s no indie sweetheart. Her talent is undeniable, but her traditionally sultry vocals and relaxed tempos don’t fit well with the Pitchfork aesthetic. Instead, Jones appeals most of all to two groups: Moms, and aging hipsters who feel like they really “appreciate” talented musicians. Luckily the Bandshell is on the edge of Park Slope, a haven for both of these demographics.
Celebrate Brooklyn! also used the occasion to honor Pamela Brier, CEO & President of Maimonides Medical Center for her work in bringing top medical care to the area. For more information on the free shows the organization is bringing to Prospect Park this summer, visit the Celebrate Brooklyn! calendar. Read about last year’s opener featuring David Byrne here.