Friday, July 06, 2007

Beginning July 11, Wednesdays, Too, are on the Gorge!

Artpark’s Newest Free Outdoor Series Opens with Richie Havens!

(Lewiston, NY) On July 11 Richie Havens, the folk-rock legend who famously kicked off the original Woodstock in 1969, will serve as the inaugural headliner act of Artpark’s latest free outdoor concert series, “Wednesdays on the Gorge,” which is presented by HSBC Bank and HSBC Mortgage Corporation. All “Wednesdays on the Gorge” concerts begin at 6:30pm and feature free hands-on art activities for children.

Artpark’s Wednesday evening free outdoor concert series has undergone some significant changes for the 2007 Season. Making its debut last year, the then-titled “Artpark Wednesdays” provided a platform solely for the premier talent of Western New York and Southern Ontario. This summer, “Wednesdays on the Gorge” (July 11-August 22) will be Artpark’s second weekly showcase of national acts, while regional bands will receive considerably more public exposure as openers. Also new this year, an abundance of free family-oriented artistic endeavors – similar to those offered on Tuesdays at Artpark – will be made available at each Wednesday event this summer.

“HSBC Mortgage Corporation, USA is proud to continue our sponsorship of Artpark and its ‘Wednesdays on the Gorge’ summer concert series,” said HSBC Senior Vice President National Sales Manager David Gates. “It is a pleasure for us to continue our commitment to Artpark and the entire Lower Niagara River Region.”

Following Havens, the “Wednesdays on the Gorge” schedule features three-time Grammy-winner Lucinda Williams (July 18), country-rockers Pure Prairie League (July 25), blues sensation Kelley Hunt (August 1), a Cajun Festival (August 8) with C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band and Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, a Celtic Fest (August 15) with the Saw Doctors, and the season finale with perennial Artpark favorites Switch (August 22).

Havens, who is gifted with one of the most recognizable voices in popular music and noted for applying his distinctive style to the works of others (especially Bob Dylan and The Beatles), has grown quite accustomed to drawing very large audiences. His electrifying three hour performance in front of over a half million people at Woodstock in 1969 helped to jumpstart a legendary career and inspired a song rendition (“Freedom”) that became the anthem of a generation.

In 1970, Havens started his own record label, called Stormy Forest, and delivered Stonehenge. Later that year came Alarm Clock, which yielded the hit version of George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun,” and became Havens’ first album to reach Billboard’s Top-30. Stormy Forest went on to release four more of his records in the decade: The Great Blind Degree (1971), Live On Stage (1972), Portfolio (1973), and Mixed Bag II (1974).

Havens – a Brooklyn native – also branched out into acting during the 1970s. He was featured in the original 1972 stage presentation of The Who’s Tommy, and had the lead role in the 1974 film Catch My Soul, based on Shakespeare’s Othello. In 1977, he co-starred with Richard Pryor in Greased Lightning. He has also received soundtrack credits from a wide range of well-known TV shows and movies, from The Wonder Years in 1989 to the 2004 Tom Cruise blockbuster Collateral.

Increasingly, Havens has devoted his energies to educating young people about ecological issues. In the mid-1970s, he co-founded the Northwind Undersea Institute, an oceanographic children’s museum on City Island in the Bronx. That led to the creation of The Natural Guard, an organization that provides children with hands-on opportunities to study the land, water and air in their communities. Based in New Haven, Connecticut, the Natural Guard now has chapters across the Americas, and continues to grow.

The opening act on July 11 is Noa Bursie.

Artpark’s Outdoor Amphitheater can be accessed via the Upper Park’s Portage Road entrance off of Center Street or through South Fourth Street nearest the Mainstage Theater.

“Wednesdays on the Gorge” is also supported by Certo Brothers Distributing Company, Modern Corporation, Tim Horton’s, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission. Children’s art activities are sponsored by the New York Power Authority.

For more info, call the Artpark Box Office at (716) 754-4375 or go online to

The Earl W. Brydges Artpark is being operated by Artpark & Company, Inc. for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation under a license agreement.

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