by Ari Roth
For the second summer in a row, Pairings on the Parkway is bringing free live music to Sister Cities Park. This wonderful, family-friendly environment is host to a rich lineup of singer-songwriters throughout the summer. With the nearby kiddie pool and fountain, along with the Logan Square Café right next door, families can come with food, blankets and friends and enjoy the music all evening. That Music Mag is proud to be the media sponsor for Pairings on the Parkway this year, and we are excited to take part in presenting a summer of excellent artists.
When I attended Pairings on the Parkway two weeks ago, Ernie Halter was playing a charismatic and engaging set of covers and originals to a large (but not overwhelming) crowd, a mix of curious bystanders, families on picnics, and simply fans of the music. It was a beautiful, warm day, and the casual atmosphere suited the music and location perfectly.
Every Thursday for the rest of the summer, up through August, Pairings on the Parkway will continue to host these concerts. They will follow up Ernie Halter’s show with performances by New Haven-via-Philly trio Birds Over Arkansas on July 10th, soul-tinged singer and guitarist Jeffrey Gaines on July 17th, the dramatic, emotional rock songs of Minerva (presented by That Music Mag!) on July 24th, and rising local songwriter – and curator of Pairings on the Parkway – Matt Santry on July 31st. August will bring even more great music, including The Voice finalist Nelly’s Echo, acoustic musician and promoter KC Turner, prolific, long-running DIY pop project Thunderegg, the jazzy, soulful Matt Cusson, and New Jersey singer-songwriter Alexis Cunningham.
I also spoke to organizer Laurie Heinerichs, who says that the Pairings on the Parkway event is “an effort to use what is traditionally a very family-friendly, active children’s park for an alternative use, a more adult-friendly event.”
This year’s programming is something of a departure from last summer’s jazz-centric artist lineup, with a move towards singer-songwriters “in an effort to attract a broader, larger crowd, which we felt might fit the demographics of the park, might draw a bigger crowd, and might build and grow the event.” With the help of Matt Santry, a Philadelphia singer-songwriter who will also play at Pairings on the Parkway this summer, and aided by That Music Mag, a new lineup was created with this focus in mind.
The low-key, free, outdoor, all-ages environment also contributes to a different atmosphere and crowd, and Heinerichs tells me that “you’ll find a lot of parents sitting enjoying the show, whose kids might be playing in the fountain, mommy groups come together and enjoy a bottle of wine together, it’s a really affordable first date, so there’s a variety of people who take advantage of this event. It’s an alternative type of program in the park.”
She says that, although there are many opportunities to see live music in the city, Pairings on the Parkway is unique for a number of reasons: “First of all, it’s free. It’s a green space in the middle of an urban setting. It’s a BYO event that’s outdoors, which is unique as well.”
This latter point is significant, as the organizers have gotten city permission to allow patrons to bring along alcoholic beverages and enjoy them outdoors for the duration of the show, so you can “chill, sit back, have a bottle of wine,” while you savor the live music. Logan’s Square Café will also offer “outdoor grilling” to pair with your wine or beer.
Heinerichs promises that this all adds up to “a fun, outdoor summertime event, and that’s what people in the heart of the city are looking for, a chance to be outside during the warm weather. You can go to a bar or a club any night of the week, year-round, but it’s unique to be able to grab a blanket, a bottle of wine, and sit back, but still be in the middle of the city.”
Sister Cities Park is located at 18th Street & the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and the event is held every Thursday from 5 PM to 8 PM on the grass in front of the small stage. Once again, the event is absolutely free and BYO, so come to Sister Cities Park and enjoy the music!