Arts Council of Princeton Announces Free Summer Concert Line Up

Co-sponsor Princeton Shopping Center to host weekly concerts on outside courtyard

PRINCETON, NJ – The Arts Council of Princeton, in partnership with the Princeton Shopping Center, presents the Summer Courtyard Concert Series every Thursday beginning June 22 through August 24, 2017, from 6-8 pm at the Princeton Shopping Center, 301 North Harrison Street, Princeton, New Jersey. This summer’s performers include C’est Bon Cajun Dance Band, the Blawenburg Band, Trinidelphia, Cheick Hamala Diabae, Shamie Royston, Octavia Blues, Ryan Tennis, Fresh Fire, West Philadelphia Orchestra, and Michael Austin with the Theljon Allen Band. The Summer Courtyard Concert Series is free and open to the public. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Ample parking is available at the Princeton Shopping Center.

“Our programming team has curated a diverse schedule of talented performers – something for everyone — and the Princeton Shopping Center Courtyard is an amazing place for our community to enjoy a concert under the stars,” said Taneshia Nash Laird, the Arts Council of Princeton’s Executive Director. “Everyone is invited grab a lawn chair or blanket, bring the kids, and enjoy a fun, family-friendly concert each week throughout the summer.”

Thursday, June 22 – C’est Bon Cajun Dance Band. What do you get when the women of NY’s top Cajun bands combine their musical talents? C’est Bon Cajun Dance Band: hard-rockin, foot-stompin, girl-powered Cajun dancehall music! These harmonious sisters have been singing and playing high-energy Cajun music to crowds in the area for almost two decades, keeping the spirit alive and well. It’s hard to tell who’s having more fun: the band or their audience – but one thing’s for sure: a good time is guaranteed for all.

Thursday, June 29 – The Blawenburg Band Join us for a special evening showcasing the golden age of concert band music featuring American patriotic music the evening before Independence Day. The Blawenburg Band is one of the oldest community bands in the state, founded in 1890 in Blawenburg, NJ. The members of the Band range in age from their teens to their nineties, and include teachers and students, research scientists, lawyers, computer specialists, homemakers and active retirees. Some players have years of training and professional experience, others learned to play as children and are dedicated amateurs.

Thursday, July 6 – Trinidelphia. Trinidelphia has been pleasing audiences with their distinct combination of American and Caribbean styles since 2005. Fusing Trinidadian Soca and Calypso with Latin Jazz, Reggae, Salsa, and American top-40, they have developed a sound all their own over the past decade. Their unique and rhythmic arrangements of jazz and popular songs cast the steelpan in fresh new light, pushing the stylistic and artistic boundaries of an often type-cast instrument. Steel Pannist/Trumpeter Chris Aschman, Lead Vocalist/Guitarist Shawn Hennessey, Bassist Ian Rafalak, and Drummer Joe Truglio each bring their own unique “voice” to help add to the ensemble’s unique chemistry.

Thursday, July 13 – Cheick Hamala Diabate. Cheick (pronounced “shake”) Hamala Diabate, is a West African historian in the Griot tradition, and a world-recognized master of the ngoni, a Malian traditional instrument. A sought after performer, lecturer, and storyteller throughout Africa, Europe, Asia and Canada, Cheick Hamala began touring in the 1995. Upon coming to the US, Cheick Hamala was intrigued by the resemblance between his beloved ngoni and the American banjo, even sharing tunings and picking styles. He has since learned to play the banjo at a virtuosic level, including collaborations with Bela Fleck. Cheick’s album of banjo duets with Carlin, From Mali to America, was nominated for a grammy in 2007 for Best Traditional World Music Album.

Thursday, July 20 – Shamie Royston. Shamie Royston – pianist, composer and educator – is a unique musician in her own way. She has an exquisite way of playing the piano, and her compositions are appreciated by many jazz listeners. Since moving to New Jersey, she has been a steady member of the Tia Fuller Quartet and has played with many other great artists such as Christian McBride, Lonnie Plaxico, Ron Miles, and many others. Shamie has toured Europe and the United States with her fiery, yet soulful piano playing and has played at many of the top jazz venues and festivals in the world. Shamie’s debut CD entitled “Portraits” was released in March 2012.

Thursday, July 27 – Octavia Blues. Octavia is a lead vocalist, harmonica playing rhythm guitarist, composer, performer and is endorsed by Suzuki Music USA and Godin Guitars. Octavia is noted for outstanding and dynamic vocal harmonica and guitar performances consisting of exciting original music and/or cover material depending on venue needs. Strong unforgettable shows are the norm for this multi-talented artist. Dedicated to the music that drives this performer, the several shows in her musical arsenal include The Octavia Blues Band, Infusion With Octavia Jazz and her Folk show of touching singer-songwriter material. Music, performance and touching people run through Octavia’s veins!

Thursday, August 3 – Ryan Tennis. Listening to Ryan Tennis is like taking a road trip to a new place with an old friend. Songs range from soul-touching acoustic ballads to roots funk and soul to rollicking reggae and afro-Caribbean, but under it, all is a foundation of groove and warmth that keeps you moving forward. Tennis’ sound has drawn comparisons to Paul Simon, Bill Withers, and Ben Harper — surprising likenesses for an all-American college football player turned singer/songwriter. While his disarming lyrics and singable melodies display a rare sensitivity, the intensity of his live performances – solo or backed by the raucous Clubhouse Band – hint at his gridiron past.

Thursday, August 10 – Fresh Fire. Fresh Fire is an alternative-inspirational band based in South Jersey. Though the band started simply as friends who love music, these musicians have grown into a band of professionals that create a sound that resonates with listeners a strong sense of faith in their music. Fresh Fire has a sound of their own, with influences from various music genres and artists, but they are always working to break the homogenous musical trends.

Thursday, August 17 – West Philadelphia Orchestra. With a diverse line-up of professional Philadelphia musicians whose influences range from Sun Ra to Bulgarian brass bands, West Philadelphia Orchestra is a unique live ensemble in today’s auto-tuned musical world. They began playing Romanian ballads, Macedonian folk-dance songs, Bulgarian wedding music, and Klezmer in late 2006, and have continued expanding their repertoire of Eastern European music. The band also plays original tunes, which blend other sounds, like jazz and classical, together with traditional Balkan sounds. With blistering beats and walls of brass, they inspire audiences to hold hands, gyrate, howl, and otherwise slip the yoke of the homogenized culture industry.

Thursday, August 24 – Michael Austin with the Theljon Allen Band. Michael Austin, native of Baltimore, MD is an example of many things. He is a mentor, leader, musician, teacher and public speaker, to name a few. In May of 1975, Michael, 26 at the time, was sentenced to life plus fifteen years for armed robbery and murder, crimes he did not commit. During the next 10 years, while incarcerated, Austin started a jazz band and music programs. He continued to educate himself and others on music theory, composing, and voice training. On December 28, 2001, Austin’s prayers for freedom had been answered. All charges were dropped and Michael was released and granted a full pardon. Michael Allen frequently travels all over the east coast and internationally, to share his story and talents with others.

The Arts Council of Princeton, founded in 1967, is a non-profit organization with a mission of Building Community through the Arts. Housed in the landmark Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, designed by architect Michael Graves, the ACP fulfills its mission by presenting a wide range of programs including exhibitions, performances, free community cultural events, and studio-based classes and workshops in a wide range of media. Arts Council of Princeton programs are designed to be high-quality, engaging, affordable and accessible for the diverse population of the greater Princeton region. For more information, visit or call 609.924.8777.