On a recent Sunday, Greenpointers at the McGolrick Greenmarket were serenaded during their shopping thanks to Make Music New York, a free musical celebration that takes over subways, parks, and clubs every year on the longest day of the year.
Sveen explained what inspired him to organized the McGolrick show: “My bandmate, Craig [Howe], is from Long Island and has always wanted to play a Make Music New York concert, so he emailed me immediately when the announcement was made that the venues were available, and I emailed the organization to request to organize the day at McGolrick Park.”
Sveen soon organized a group of friends to fill the lineup, mostly solo musicians playing guitar, and rented a generator for the performances.
“I asked friends to play who were fun and semi-mellow, since it was a Sunday afternoon in a family-oriented area,” Sveen said.
As the lovely strains of IOLA drifted across the park from the pavilion, curious noontime shoppers paused amidst their day to watch the duo play pretty, poetic songs featuring Sveen’s cool, melancholy voice and Howe’s post-punk shots of electric guitar.
Mason H. of Golden Bones played a set featuring Americana-tinged songs from his 2013 EP, temporarily transforming McGolrick into a southern veranda where time passed slowly and a lemonade was the perfect accompaniment.
“I’ve always loved hanging out in the park,” Sveen said. “I love the square in the center and the gorgeous trees. Also, many of my friends live in the area.”
To Ewing, Make Music New York’s mission made McGolrick an apt performance venue.
“Make Music New York puts a lot of emphasis on the value of the commons and the role of art, music and performance in public spaces,” Ewing said. “The number of shows they put together across the entire city is a huge undertaking, and it’s all free. Pretty impressive.”
With fewer and fewer DIY spaces like Glasslands, 285 Kent and Death by Audio (RIP), and a circuit of established clubs that can be difficult to break into, Make Music New York offers an opportunity for a more diverse, independent music scene to flourish in New York, hearkening back to the early-aughts indie scene that flourished under promoters like Todd P.
“MMNY is basically the antithesis of the status quo in the NY music scene,” Mason H. said. “It’s free, it’s outside, and anyone who loves music can get involved, in almost every corner of the city.”
Sveen was happy to be a part of such a “vast array of musical groups that were performing.”
“Make Music New York is a great way for people to see and play free music and feel engaged with their neighborhood and communities,” Sveen said. “It also encourages people to explore other areas of the city and see what types of music people are creating in various places.”