Event: City Parks Foundation Gala 2015

by Eric J. Davis
cover - 2016 city parks gala

Magazine     >    Reviews


Written by Eric J. Davis for THE ARTISTS FORUM MAGAZINE
Edited by
Amos White V for THE ARTISTS FORUM, INC
Photos:
Amos White V

REVIEWER RATINGS:
5 out of 5 stars

CITY PARKS FOUNDATION GALA 2015

 NEW YORK, NY (June 26, 2015) “Grass” was the buzzword at the City Parks Foundation benefit in Central Park on Monday 22nd.  The air was filled with the sweet scent of Linden trees. But people were talking about a different kind of scent.  “The truth is all of us partied, smoked pot, and made out to music that Steve Leber helped make popular,” said David Moore, foundation chairman, when he introduced the night’s honoree. “Truth be told I bet there are even a lot of children conceived here because of Steve’s genius.”

City Parks Foundation Chairman David Moore speaks to Gala attendees
City Parks Foundation Chairman David Moore speaks to Gala attendees

The music of the evening was a throwback to the ‘80s, paying tribute to 1986, the year SummerStage was founded. Legendary rock music manager & producer Steve Leber, this year’s recipient of the People and Parks Award, has managed Joan Jett, Aerosmith, and Michael Bolton. Joining him for the evening’s festivities in Ramsey Playfield were a few of his other famous acts – Dionne Warwick, Debbie Harry, Colin Hay of Men at Work, and Angelique Kidjo.

Warwick kicked off the concert by singing What the World Needs Now Is Love.  A song that she said, “rings true to this day in light of the things that have been happening.”

Dionne Warwick performs her hits at the City Parks Foundation Gala 2015
Dionne Warwick performs her hits at the City Parks Foundation Gala 2015

Harry exuded her usual star-style, performing a slow and even sexier version of Heart of Glass, her second single from the album Debravation – Strike Me Pink, and the always fun French Kissin’ in the USA.

Debbie Harry in action at the City Parks Foundation Gala 2015
Debbie Harry in action at the City Parks Foundation Gala 2015

Hay mentioned his “love of weed” and how it was influential when he started writing the songs Down Under and Who Can It Be Now? before his set.  He said, “I will admit that I did write all those songs extremely stoned on very strong marijuana.”  And continued, “I’m not trying to condone its use on any impressionable people in the audience, but it certainly worked for me.”

Singer/Songwriter Colin Hay (Men at Work) performs at the City Parks Foundation Gala 2015
Singer/Songwriter Colin Hay (Men at Work) performs at the City Parks Foundation Gala 2015

Kidjo was more specific and referred to the nine who were killed in Charleston.  She called for “love not violence” before her medley which featured Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.

The concert ended with Warwick, Kidjo, Harry, and Hay joined onstage by Leber, Moore, Gala Co-Chair David Barse, CEO of Third Avenue Management, and others for a rendition of one of the #1 songs of 1986 – That’s What Friends Are For.

Angelique Kidjo sets the night on fire with her powerful vocals at the City Parks Foundation Gala 2015
Angelique Kidjo sets the night on fire with her powerful vocals at the City Parks Foundation Gala 2015

And the crowd got even more high when Executive Director Heather Lubov announced, “This year the City Parks Foundation increased its budget by more than $1 million, resulting in twenty-five added shows in sixteen neighborhood parks.”

Moore summed it up when he stated, “We bring people into the parks, and we help local groups organize support for their parks in their neighborhoods. We make New York more livable by making parks more engaging.”

Who knows?!  Maybe soon they’ll be getting rid of the “Keep Off the Grass” signs.

For more information about the City Parks Foundation, visit: cityparksfoundation.org

Large-scale graphics light up the stage at the City Parks Foundation Gala 2015
Large-scale graphics light up the stage at the City Parks Foundation Gala 2015
From left to right: The finale with Mitchell Silver, Bonnie Lautenberg, honoree Steve Leber, Dionne Warwick, Angelique Kidjo, and Colin Hay
From left to right: The finale with Mitchell Silver, Bonnie Lautenberg, honoree Steve Leber, Dionne Warwick, Angelique Kidjo, and Colin Hay

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