by Kevin Callan
The 66th Annual Pastorius Park Free Summer Concert Series by the Chestnut Hill Community Association begins Wednesday, June 18, in Pastorius Park at the corner of Millman Street and Hartwell Lane.
The concerts feature bands from a blend of different genres and cultural backgrounds for seven weeks of easy listening music. The concerts take place every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. from June 18 to July 30.
First up on June 18 is Hezekiah Jones, which represents a crucial piece of the Philly-Folk scene. Better described as alternative folk, Hezekiah Jones performances include anywhere from 1-12 band members, each member with expertise on several different instruments.
The band is a collection of Philadelphia area artists who use their talents to accompany the song-writing talents of Raphael Cutrufello. Their songs range from catchy folk tunes to more hair-raising ballads. The band has released two albums and two EPs.
Mutlu shows off his singer-songwriting abilities on June 25. The Turkish-American guitarist has done collaborations with the likes of Hall & Oates and performed with artists like Joe Jackson, Adele, Katy Perry, and many others. His music blends genres like reggae, soul, world music and soul into a singer-songwriter style. He recently released his EP “The Dream Book,” which Mutlu calls his “own personal brand of global pop music.”
Next up are The Lawsuits on July 2. With two albums, as well as an EP released last December, the five-piece, indie/folk band recently joined Philly’s newest musical collective, American Diamond Recordings, which represents other artists like Toy Soldiers and Ron Gallo.
The Lawsuits may be most comparable to another local band and acclaimed friends of theirs called The Districts. They are also well known for their lyrical abilities and draw influences from reggae and 60’s popular music.
On July 9, the Deb Callahan Band takes the stage. Once featured as the hot debut in the October/November 2004 issue of Blues Revue Magazine, Deb Callahan’s songs blend blues and soul. She grew up in Boston, but has associated with the mid-Atlantic music scene since the late 90s. She is in the process of producing her fifth album and is hoping to release it later this year.
The Venissa Santi Quartet brings her Afro-Cuban style music to Pastorius on July 16. Santi’s talents are rooted in the compositional skills of her grandfather, Jacobo Ros Capablanca who came from a family of talented musicians, and her mother, who taught her to sing harmonies.
Though she is normally backed by a larger band, the Venissa Santi Quartet will feature nothing more than Santi’s vocals backed by a pianist, bassist and percussionist. Santi’s most recent album “Big Stuff: Afro-Cuban Holiday” features elements of jazz and blues, as well as Santi’s Cuban roots.
The John Byrne Band returns to the Pastorius Concert Series on July 23. With music rooted in Celtic and folk, the John Byrne Band has toured the East Coast in recent years, regularly performing in Philadelphia and the New York and New Jersey areas.
Front man and songwriter John Byrne draws influences from both his native home of Dublin and his second home here in the states. Byrne has opened for the likes of Ian Gillan of Deep Purple and the band has performed a series of sold out shows at the World Café Live in Philadelphia.
The last show on July 30 features Aaron & The Spell. With a musical blend of blues, folk, rock n’ roll, and soul, Aaron Brown has been compared to artists like Philly’s Amos Lee and Otis Redding. Playing as the band Aaron & The Spell, its performances include solo acoustics from Brown as well as full band performances.
The Pastorius Park Concert Series is produced by the Chestnut Hill Community Association and is supported by both The Chestnut Hill Community Fund and Chestnut Hill Hospital. If a show is rained out, it will take place at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s Cherokee Campus. Stay tuned to the Chestnut Hill Local for previews of each band and more information about the concerts.