The Height stuff: Musicians stream to music fest in Prospect Heights

The Height stuff: Musicians stream to music fest in Prospect Heights
On the Way: Artanker Convoy drummer Arthur Owens (left, with bassist Cezhan Ambrose) says that the Prospect Heights Music and Arts Festival next week will make a tighter music community. The band plays at the Way Station on July 15.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

They are taking this music scene to new Heights!

More than 75 local bands will join forces next week to blow the roofs off of Prospect Heights. The second annual Prospect Heights Music and Arts Festival is designed to lure music-lovers to a neighborhood that is teeming with talent, and the festival’s headliner says that he hopes those flocking to the five-day event will discover some fringe gems.

“You may not be hearing all these acts on NPR or WFUV or reading about them in Pitchfork,” said Niall Connolly, an indie folk singer living in Windsor Terrace. “But they are amongst countless Brooklyn acts as good and better than anything you will find in the mainstream.”

The festival’s founder said his love for the neighborhood and local artistry is at the core of the event.

“The goal is to create awareness about Prospect Heights and everything it has to offer and make it a destination for more people,” said Andy Heidel, the owner of the Way Station, a major hub of the festival. The bar will join nearby venues like the Branded Saloon, Soda Bar, and the St. Catherine (among others) in hosting acts from a diverse range of genres, ranging from indie folk and hip-hop to traditional Japanese music with a jazz tinge.

The festival is also an opportunity for musicians to form a stronger and more intertwined community, says one participant.

“In order to develop a sense of community you have to get together and play in the same place — the same room or within a few blocks of each other,” said Arthur Owens of Artanker Convoy, a band that fuses Brazilian dance music and rock. “Setting up a show or a festival is really the best way to do it.”

This year’s festival has grown significantly since its first year. It has also introduced visual artists into the mix, adding a walking mural tour and an interactive outdoor art project that stretches along the Eastern Parkway promenade. Borough President Eric Adams will even stop by the Way Station to join a discussion with business owners and artists about keeping local culture alive in the face of rising rent. Heidel hopes a coalition of locals will help artistic events such as the festival flourish in the evolving neighborhood.

Organizers and artists hope the festival will continue to grow in order to bring deserved attention to this corner of the city’s musical landscape, which Owens says can be easy to overlook in the sprawl.

“Any time I’ve ever thought I had a grasp on the New York music scene, I’m always surprised that I only know a little corner of it,” he said.

The Prospect Heights Music and Arts Festival takes place at various venues across the neighborhood from July 15–19.

Artanker Convoy plays July 15 at 10 pm, and Niall Connolly plays July 18 at 10 pm at the Way Station [683 Washington Ave. between St. Marks Avenue and Prospect Place in Prospect Heights, (347) 627–4949, www.waystationbk.com]. Free.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.

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