Music fans will have an exciting menu to select from this summer as the Palmdale Amphitheater will present its summer concert series set to begin in early July. Also, a series of classic films will also be part of the schedule.
Starting things on July 2 is a free “Freedom Symphony” performed by West Coast Classical Orchestra. In this preview of Fourth of July festivities, the orchestra will perform many of the nation’s favorite patriotic songs. Gates will open at 5 p.m. with the baton scheduled to drop from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Attendees may bring food and non-alcoholic beverages, along with blankets, low back chairs and umbrellas. No fireworks, alcohol, pets or “EZ-up” tents will be allowed. Although the concert is free, visitors are encouraged to make a donation for future Independence Day celebrations at the Palmdale Amphitheater by visiting www.cityofpalmdale.org/Your-City-Hall/Palmdale-community-Foundation.
‘Salt N Pepa’s here’
The popular hip hop duo Salt-N-Pepa will be joined by DJ Spinderella for a July 9 performance. Salt N Pepa was the first female rap group and broke barriers and opened doors for a series of women hip hop stars. With the songs “Push It,” “Tramp,” “Shake Your Thang,” “Shoop,” and “Whatta Man,” Salt N Pepa defied expectations in the 1980s and helped to catapult hip hop to international popularity and acclaim. Tickets are $16. A number of VIP tickets are available and include express entry and seating near the front of the stage (on a first-come, first-served basis).
Salt N Pepa (Cheryl James and Sandra Denton respectively) were born and reared in Queens, NY which in the 1980s became the recognized epicenter of rap and hip hop. At the time record industry executives and radio personalities believed that hip hop was a mere fad and were reluctant to either produce or play these songs. The duo’s first release was “The Showstopper,” a modest R&B hit from 1986. This song was believed to have changed rap from misogynist, sexist lyrics and objectification of women’s bodies. The pair took ownership of these portrayals of women in rap and donned skimpy outfits and talked openly about sex and their thoughts about men, such as in the hit single “Let’s Talk About Sex.”
The album “Hot, Cool & Vicious” would eventually go platinum in the United States—selling 1.4 million copies—and was nominated for a Grammy Award. Their next album, 1988’s “A Salt with a Deadly Pepa,” contained the hit “Shake Your Thang” which reached the Top 20 on the U.S. R&B charts. Other albums include “Blacks’ Magic (1990), “Very Necessary” from 1993 and “Brand New” in 1997. The group disbanded in 1999 but would reform in 2005 by joining En Vogue on stage for VH-1’s Hip Hop Honors show. The “Salt N Pepa Show” arrived on VH-1 in 2007, a “reality-TV” program that briefly chronicled their lives off stage.
LeAnn Rimes on July 23
“We are excited to announce that we are adding new elements to our summer lineup at The Amp to give our residents a wider variety of events and more opportunities for fun,” said Keri Smith, director of Palmdale Recreation and Culture. “We’ve added a free concert, expanded the number of people that will be onstage, created two new themed concerts and added free children’s activities at our Family Movie Nights.”
LeAnn Rimes will take the stage at 8 p.m. July 23. When little 13-year-old Rimes released the mega-hit “Blue” in 1996, country fans began to associate her poise and stage presence with that of Brenda Lee, and her vocal range with Patsy Cline. It took many years for Rimes to set forth her own musical path and since her debut she has seen 42 singles reach the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart—13 of which were top-10 hits—and has scored numerous hits such as “Can’t Fight the Moonlight” (number one in 11 countries), and “How Do I Live” which is the second longest charting song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
A native of Jackson, Miss., Rimes began her career in musical theatre, performing a Dallas, Texas production of “A Christmas Carol” and almost landed the lead part in the Broadway production of “Annie.” Not long after her stage work, Rimes appeared on Ed McMahon’s “Star Search,” was champion for one week, and then hit the record stores by storm. In 1997 Rimes began recording more “crossover” or pop material and international acclaim followed, particularly with the album “Unchained Melody: The Early Years” which consisted mainly of cover versions of pop and country songs such popular tunes by The Beatles, Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton and Bill Monroe. Also that year, Rimes released “You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs” which contained a cover of Debby Boone’s chart topper as well a remake of Bette Midler’s “The Rose.” She demonstrated her versatility even more in 1998 by recording a cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Rolling Stone at the time said that Rimes’ vocal style “…holds her own in the more popular style of Mariah Carey and Celine Dion.”
Since 2000, Rimes has concentrated primarily on pop music. She has sold more than 44 million albums, has earned two Grammy Awards, three Academy of Country Music Awards, and remains the youngest recipient of a Grammy as well as being the first country artist to win a Grammy for “Best New Artist.” Tickets to see LeAnn Rimes begin at $20. A limited number of VIP tickets are available.
Get down, get funky July 30
The venue will shift gears on July 30 with a “throwback” to the days of big Afros, platform shoes and Polyester when a “Super Soul Saturday: A Party for the Decades” takes the stage. The five-hour tribute to soul music will feature the sounds of Motown, Philadelphia International and Stax records and include the best in funk, disco and, of course, the “King of Pop”…Michael Jackson. The lineup will feature DJ Streak, Bump City and Stone Soul. DJ Streak, the founder of Supernatural Turntable Artists, is considered by club DJs as one of the best ever… particularly at “scratching.” DJ Streak has performed at a number of venues in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York City and has also delighted crowds in Europe and in Asia.
“Booty-shaking party music” may best describe Bump City. Rooted in improvisation, these all-star musicians, led by drummer Tony Capko, have built an enthusiastic vibe on a long-standing musical tradition that dates back to the legends of funk, soul and blues. The band is known for its extraordinary musicians and phenomenal vocals and harmonies and cover classic sounds from James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, The Temptations and also touch on later artists like Joss Stone, Alicia Keys and Lenny Kravitz.
Stone Soul is known for spot-on renditions from legendary artists and has been identified by critics as one of the best Classic Soul and Motown cover bands around. Over the years they have appeared on stage with Stevie Wonder, The O’Jays, Diana Ross and B.B. King.
Tickets for Super Soul Saturday begin at $8 (VIP tickets are available).
Warm nights and cool jazz
The concert series will culminate August 6 with the Herbie Kay Trio featuring Tony Capko, along with popular performers Gina Eckstine, and the Adam Cohen Band. The Herbie Kaye Trio featuring Tony Capko has been a favorite act in the Antelope Valley. The trio has been a backing group for some of the biggest artists in popular music, and now with Tony Capko they have blended their voices to become a jazz favorite at festivals, concerts and in amphitheaters. The group is expected to showcase selections from their latest album, “Drive Time,” which is a collection of traditional jazz, smooth jazz, funk and R&B in the style of Grover Washington Jr., David Sanborn, Richard Elliot, Gerald Albright and Kenny G.
If Gina Ecstine has a familiar last name, you’re right. The daughter of the legendary Billy Eckstine was reared in a musical household which frequently included guests like Quincy Jones, Sammy Davis Jr., Sarah Vaughn and The Four Tops. Early in her career she traveled the world opening for such luminaries as Count Basie, Sammy Davis Jr. and Bill Cosby. One evening she appeared on “The Tonight Show” and it was suggested that she form her own nightclub act and she proceeded to spend a decade performing at practically every major hotel and casino in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. She remains a staple act at many of these resorts and is often seen performing a tribute to her legendary father at trendy Los Angeles jazz hot spots. Her latest album is “All I Have Is Yours.”
Adam Cohen plays all over Los Angeles and is considered by music critics to be one of the industry’s finest bass players on either the acoustic “stand up” or six-string electric bass. He has performed with Ray Charles, The New York Voices, Taylor Dayne, Ernie Watts, Tim Weisberg, Eric Marienthal and Englebert Humperdinck. Cohen’s latest album is called “Ritual.”
Tickets for the jazz shows begin at $8 (VIP tickets available) and may be purchased by visiting www.palmdaleamphitheater.com. Tickets for all shows will be available at 4 p.m. each day of the concert on a cash-only basis.
Popular film showcase
A series of great movies is scheduled this summer. First up is “Tangled” on July 15. The film stars the voices of Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi who must track down Flynn Ryder who is considered to be a most wanted and charming bandit. Rider hides in a castle and doesn’t know it is occupied by Rapunzel who deftly uses her superpowered 70-foot hair to aid in his capture. The film is rated PG.
Three decades after George Lucas unleashed the “force” to science fiction fans, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has delighted audiences to the tune of more than $1 billion worldwide. Harrison Ford, Carie Fisher and Mark Hamill return for the latest adventure in outer space as the “First Order” attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of heroes—with the help of the Resistance—try to defeat the evil empire. Scheduled July 29. Rated PG.
Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson and James Spader star in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” scheduled for Aug. 5. When an attempt is made to jump start a dormant peacekeeping program, things go terribly wrong and it’s up to Earth’s mightiest heroes to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his devious plans. Rated PG.
Finally, the delightful animated film “Minions” will cap off Family Movie Nights on Aug. 12. Starring the voices of Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm and Steve Carell, the film tells the tale of super-villain Scarlet Overkill who, alongside her inventor husband, Herb, hatches a plot to take over the world. She even recruits a few wayward Minions—Stuart, Kevin and Bob—to assist her. Rated PG.
Each movie will feature children’s activities from 6 to 8 p.m. (while supplies last), and costumes, impromptu dance parties and parades are encouraged at each showing. Admission is $4 (children under 12 years are admitted free). Gates will open at 6 p.m. and the films will begin promptly at dusk. Food and non-alcoholic beverages (in coolers) are welcome pending inspection at the gate. There will be snack vendors, and organizers suggest you bring along a lawn chair or blanket. Children under 12 years must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.
Summer fun for everyone
“In addition to what’s going on at The Amp, there’s a lot more fun coming to Palmdale this summer,” Smith said. “We are hosting our inaugural book festival and ARTown at Legacy Park on May 7, sundown events at DryTown, Summer Classic Movie Suspense Series at the Playhouse on Thursdays, a Flag Day celebration and poem contest at the Joe Davies Airpark, an Evening of Jazz at the Playhouse, numerous events at the library celebrating summer reading, theatrical comedy with “Cheaper by the Dozen” at the Playhouse, and various art exhibits featuring local artists at Legacy Commons and the Playhouse. We’ve got something for everyone.”
For more details about the concert series, Family Movie Nights any of the entertainment shows, call (661) 267-5611.