Levitt AMP Music Series returns to Kopernik Park in Utica
Music fans missed a lot in the lost year of 2020, but perhaps nothing more than the Levitt AMP Utica musical series.
The wildly popular concert series returns this summer with a lineup of New York-based artists performing at Kopernik Park in downtown Utica. The diverse lineup of high caliber talent spans genres like jazz, pop, soul, country, R&B, hip hop and more. Concerts will take place Monday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., July 5 to August 30, with a 10th final concert on Friday, September 3 to kick off Labor Day weekend.
July 5 begins with the Carolina Gents of Brooklyn, featuring some of the best bluegrass, Americana and country musicians in the New York City area. The Carolina Gents cover the entire spectrum of the Americana, from the pure, sweet tones of the Appalachians to the solid southern twang. The opening of the show will be singer / songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Isaac French, originally from Vermont and now living in Rome.
On July 12, powerful Rochester singer Danielle Ponder takes the stage, transcending musical genres with a deep and powerful soul explosion. Count Blastula, who has been compared to artists such as Phish, The Allman Brothers and The Grateful Dead, will open the show.
The July 19 show features an award-winning 12-piece combo, Alex Torres & His Latin Orchestra from Amsterdam. Grupo Pagan, a SAMMY-winning Latin American band based in Syracuse, kicks off the show with great energy.
Sarah Vaughan, winner of the Samara International Vocal Jazz Competition, and award-winning guitarist Pasquale Grasso will be the featured artists on July 26, after an opening set by Sydney Irving of Syracuse.
The jazz-pop sounds of Sammy Rae & The Friends will fill Kopernik Park on August 2, with an opening set featuring the reunion of The Reuben James.
The extremely moving energy, stunning vocal art and songwriting skills of Shayna Steele from New York will be on display on August 9. Local music veterans Haynesville Road will kick off.
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On August 16, Utica-born country music artist Tom Nitti will perform Levitt AMP with his full band following an opening set by the Jess Novak Band of Syracuse.
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame member Joanne Shenandoah will make a rare local appearance on August 23, with support from opener Fritz’s Polka Band.
August 30 brings a Haitian tint to Kopernik Park with New York Haitian singer and multi-instrumentalist Paul Beaubrun weaving Haitian roots music with rock and roll and reggae. Tree of Life, which debuted on the 2020 AMP TV show, will open the show.
Funk and hip hop will take over for a special on Friday, September 3, with the return of Sophistafunk from Syracuse, supported by the first part, rapper Leeky XIV.
Mark Sisti is an experienced performer who writes about local music for the Observer-Dispatch. Email him at [email protected]