Fuse News: Puerto Rican Festival Stays Downtown – And Other Summer Outdoor World Music Notes

By Noah Schaffer

Grupo Mania will perform

Grupo Mania will perform on the Caliente Latin night, Aug. 28

Once again the Festival Puertorriqueño de Massachusetts will be a downtown affair.

Last year the Boston celebration moved from its longtime Franklin Park location due to park renovations.

The parade and three days of related events have also been shifted to the first weekend in August, according to the festival Facebook page. Traditionally the festival was held at the end of July.

Meanwhile, festival organizers have sought to limit the number of local reggaeton performers. Only five reggaeton artists will be selected for Friday’s youth night, and the music will be banished from the rest of the weekend in favor of more traditional styles.

In related news, at least some of the free annual City Hall Plaza concerts will continue under the Marty Walsh administration. J.J. Hairston headlines Gospelfest on Aug. 10, hip-hop veteran Talib Kweli plays the Boston Urban Music Festival on Aug. 23 and Groupo Mania are on the bill for the Caliente Latin night on Aug. 28.

For ages, Wednesday nights at City Hall Plaza meant the Dorothy Curran Concert Series. Former city employee Curran’s name was removed by the prior administration, which rebranded it Mayor Menino’s Wednesday Night Concerts. Now Curran’s name is back and the music will include oldies favorites Tavares and Charlie Thomas’ Drifters.

A list of free Boston neighborhood concerts can be found here.

The South End will continue to be ground zero for free Latin music as the Festival Betances returns July 18-20 and the Tito Puente Music Series will take place in July and August at O’Day Park and other venues around the city.

Elsewhere the free music options for Bostonians appears to be waning. No free WZLX Hatch Shell concerts have been announced, the Out of the Box festival is taking a hiatus, and the Summer Arts Weekend, which includes Arturo Sandoval and Los Lobos, has gone from three days to two. The Boston Globe/WGBH event is also still exasperating music fans by taking place the same weekend as the Lowell Folk Festival – which is touting a typically eclectic lineup ranging from DC go-go stars EU to Moroccan gnawa master Hassan Hakmoun to bluegrass traditionalists Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers.

In the paid events category, Malian singer Noura Mint Seymali is one of the highlights of the Museum of Fine Arts’ Elaine and Jerome Rosenfeld Concerts in the Courtyard series. Also on tap are experimental New York roots/blues outfit Hazmat Modine and western swing favorites the Hot Club of Cowtown.

And Boston will get its first major outdoor reggae event in quite a few years when iconic singer/songwriter Beres Hammond headlines Reggae in the Park, a ticketed event at Franklin Park on Aug. 8.

Over the past 15 years Noah Schaffer has written about otherwise unheralded musicians from the worlds of gospel, jazz, blues, Latin, African, reggae, Middle Eastern music, klezmer, polka and far beyond. He has won over ten awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association.

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