The summer the music died! Coney Seaside Concerts canceled this year

Crowd control: The popular Seaside Summer Concert Series is returning to a cramped parking lot on W. 21st Street for the second straight year.
File photo by Steve Solomonson

Coney Island will go silent this summer.

Ex-Borough President Marty Markowitz’s Seaside Concert series will not rock the People’s Playground for the first time in 35 years, to Markowitz’s dismay.

“It’s sad. I started these concerts 35 years ago,” said Markowitz, who now works as vice outer-borough tourism czar for the city. “But I am not in the position to maintain them I was in when I was state senator and Borough President.”

Borough President Adams’s office confirmed that the music series would be taking this summer off, due to construction at the venue site — which will create an amphitheater adjacent to the land-marked Childs restaurant building to provide a permanent home to the concerts.

When asked if Adams could have done more to have the series continue uninterrupted, Markowitz said it is up to his successor to pick his own priorities.

“It’s important to understand that just because something was important to Marty Markowitz doesn’t mean it’s going to be important to the next one,” Markowitz said. just like there were things I did that [former Beep] Howie Golden didn’t do. Eric Adams is under no obligation to carry on anything that I did.”

Markowitz started the free concert series in Coney Island’s Asser Levy Park in 1978, while he was serving in the state Senate, and ran them through a private organization. They received both public funding and corporate sponsorship, and were attended by thousands each year.

But they were not without controversy. In 2008, Markowitz proposed building an amphitheater with a much-mocked potato chip-shaped roof in the park as a permanent home for the performances — triggering a successful lawsuit by Brighton Beach residents, who convinced a judge that the concerts violated city statutes by having amplified sound too close to a pair of synagogues.

As a result, the shows were exiled to a cramped lot at W. 21st Street and Surf Avenue in 2011 — much to fans’ chagrin.

Markowitz succeeded last year in getting city — if not neighborhood — approval for another amphitheater to be built into the landmark Childs Building. The administrator of a local panel expects the concerts will resume after construction on the new venue wraps up in 2015.

Community Board 13 District Manager Chuck Reichenthal wondered if perhaps the shows — which last year featured acts such as Cheap Trick, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Smokey Robinson — might lack the necessary funding and organization to continue after Markowitz’s departure from elected office in January.

“They were Marty’s baby,” said Reichenthal.

No chance, Markowitz said.

“The good news is the music will always go on in Coney Island. There just may be one year where things go a little quiet.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

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