SCHENECTADY — Justly earned as the “The City That Lights and Hauls the World,” this city’s nickname has lost its meaning to those who live here in the 21st century.
However, as Music Haven enters into its 30th year, the unique concert series has developed into a local institution. The diversity and caliber of musical talent it ushers into the Electric City has earned a reputation for shining a light on a world not easily accessible to all of us.
Mona Golub founded the concert series in 1990 as a means of flipping the script on how music lovers perceived the Capital District. Instead of seeing the region as a convenient launching-off point to other cities for entertainment — namely Boston, Montreal and New York City — she wanted to bring the music here.
“We’re adventurous,” said Golub. “Our audiences are adventurous. They’ve come to trust that.”
“Travel the world one concert at a time,” appears on the Music Haven Facebook page. Call it clever marketing, a motto, perhaps even a mission statement — so long as you agree that it is an accurate summation to the experience.
“Whether it’s an artist that has been nominated for or won a Grammy Award, or another music award, is a big deal; or has played a venue or festival that they know, is a big deal,” said Goulb. “There are certain hooks that help folks to recognize that the caliber of the talent they are going to hear is top notch.”
From Schenectady’s Central Park, audiences are treated to an auditory treat that can range from Indian folk rock one week to Brazillian Samba music the following week. Complimenting the sound is the food. Meals authentic to the region represented by each band is paired together with the music, carrying concert-goers onto a virtual ALCO train car to another part of the world week after week.
The meticulous attention to detail has earned Golub the respect of those within the local music scene. In a field of nominees that included Albany’s Alive at Five and Troy’s Rockin’ on the River, Music Haven earned Concert Series of the Year in the inaugural Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Awards. Golub received an individual award as Best Promoter or Presenter.
Music lovers in the Capital District can make for a sophisticated audience. Whereas a concert series in a neighboring city may focus on a popular name, Music Haven brings in a contemporary talent renowned throughout the world — even if that name isn’t an everyday household name.
“I love them all,” said Golub. “It’s all that I could have hoped for for our 30th anniversary season. At truth, I look at it and I smile like I’ve given birth to 15 children and they’re all just gorgeous.”
The concert series kicks off with a scintillating night of Indian pop music featuring Raghu Dixit and special guests Crossroads—Jay Gandhi & Yacouba Sissoko.
Often hailed as India’s biggest cultural and musical export, Raghu Dixit’s unique brand of infectious, happy music transcends age, genre and even language. His music is strongly rooted in Indian tradition, culture and heritage, but is presented with a contemporary, global sound.
A unique, energetic, musical experience, The Raghu Dixit Project is one of the most sought after bands in India. Having played across the length and breadth of the country, the group now features prominently at some of the most prestigious music festivals around the world, too.
Dixit, based in Bangalore, was a professionally trained Bharatnatyam dancer before he decided to try his hand at fusing acoustic folk rock with more historic sounds. While he sings in English and Hindi, Dixit is best known for taking ancient Kannada poetry and presenting it in new, accessible ways. Clad in colorful lungis, Dixit has become a sonic diplomat for his homeland, a thrilling exemplar of modern Indian music.
A variety of food and beverages will be available for purchase at all shows.
Michele’s Charcoal Pit returns to serve hungry Music Haven fans for all of the Sunday global concerts in 2019; Mike’s Hotdogs will be on hand for all other performances. Ben & Jerry’s will also scoop premium ice cream at each show.
The international food feature for Raghu Dixit will be pea and potato samosas with chutney, chana palak on rice with naan, and chicken tikka masala on rice with naan from Shalimar Restaurant.
Wine and local craft beverages from Wolf Hollow Brewing Company and Nine Pin Cider are available throughout the season.
In the case of inclement weather, Proctors remains the official rain site for The Music Haven Concert Series. Niskayuna High School auditorium will serve in this capacity for the final three performance of the season (when Hamilton takes over Proctors).
The Schenectady Foundation and Price Chopper/Market 32 are the co-presenting sponsors for the Music Haven Concert Series.