R&B, Soul Legends to Grace Boston Outdoor Concert Stage

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Posted August 2, 2013 by Lauren Carter in Theater & Arts
The Stylistics

What could be better on a warm summer’s night than the sounds of ’70s soul hits, an outdoor disco party or a cozy evening with one of R&B’s most renowned singer-songwriters? For fans who grew up with ’60s and ’70s music — and those who wish they did — pretty much nothing. That’s why music aficionados who prefer Roberta over Rihanna will want to free up their Wednesday nights this summer for a free Boston outdoor concert series at City Hall Plaza.

The series, officially known as Mayor Menino’s Wednesday Night Concerts, runs from July 24 to August 28 (editors note: there is no show on the 15th of August). No, Thomas Menino won’t be performing (as far as we know), but the series will feature disco, Philly soul, and legendary singer-songwriter Roberta Flack over a span of five weeks.

I’m not necessarily saying this will make up for the fact that you couldn’t get tickets to the Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z concert at Fenway Park, but then again, if you’re an old soul like me with a weakness for throwback hits, it just might.

Roberta Flack

Grammy-winner Roberta Flack closes out the concert series on August 28. Photo courtesy of the Boston Parks Department

The Lineup

Things kick off on July 24 with Philly soul legends The Stylistics, featuring original members Herbert Murrell and Airrion Love. Even if you don’t know The Stylistics by name, you undoubtedly know their music: The group had 12 consecutive top-10 R&B hits in the early 1970s, including “You Are Everything,” “Break Up to Make Up,” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” and they’re still going strong decades later.

The series continues on July 31 with Disco Night, featuring the band Stardust, Strictly Sinatra featuring Michael Dutra on August 7, and Charlie Thomas and the Drifters on August 21.

The finale on August 28 features Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Roberta Flack, known for hits like “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” as well as duets with Donny Hathaway such as “Where Is the Love” and “The Closer I Get To You.”

Gen-Xers may be most familiar with Flack’s 1973 hit “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” which found new life on the Fugees’ wildly popular cover “Killing Me Softly” off their 1996 album The Score.

So for those who want to revisit the timeless music of a bygone era on a warm summer evening, this Boston outdoor concert series is for you.

Background

Now in its 41st year, Mayor Menino’s Wednesday Night Concert Series was originally called the Dorothy Curran Concert Series in honor of an employee of then-Mayor Kevin White’s office. Mayors Raymond Flynn and Menino continued the outdoor concert tradition, and in 2010, the series was rebranded under Menino’s moniker.

“We figured it was time after 40 years to put a new spin on it and reinvigorate the series, if you will,” said Ryan Woods of the Boston Parks Department.

The series is paid for entirely out of funds raised and uses no taxpayer money, Woods said.

All shows begin at 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/bostonparksdepartment or www.cityofboston.gov/parks.

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