MLK Concert Series take a hit

Rapper Doug E. Fresh performs at HOT 97’s “The Tip Off” at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, in New York.
Associated Press / Invision / Scott Roth

Once regarded as one of the best deals in Brooklyn, the annual Martin Luther King summer concert series returns with an abbreviated lineup that begins and end with only four performance dates.

The 2015 season begins on July 27 with a lively rhythm & blues throwback show headlined by Minneapolis’ master performers Morris Day and The Time and two weeks later, rappers Doug E. Fresh, Kutis Blow and Special Ed close-out the 32-year-old, free, East Flatbush bonanza.

First presented by a jovial, ambitious, politician named Marty Markowitz, the series emerged four years after he was elected to represent Crown Heights in the New York Senate. He said it was his dream and chose to name the music-filled summer series in tribute to Dr. King who he has said was one of his best inspirations to pursuing a life of public service.

Since 1983 Markowitz consistently provided a diverse lineup of entertainment that probably also established him as Brooklyn’s best ambassador and according to Wikipedia the promoter of the “nation’s largest, free, public concerts for African American and Caribbean audiences.”

After leaving Albany and the senate to take the seat as president of the borough, Markowitz continued the concert series providing the hottest acts in gospel, reggae, soca, rhythm & blues, hip-hop, pop and old-school, vintage veterans of the music industry.

Although he is no longer in the public arena, his legacy continues although far less diminished and much less appealing to patrons who admittedly traveled from as far away as New Jersey and Long Island in order to enjoy the bargain extravaganza.

Presented on Mondays, at Wingate Field, 600 Kingston Ave. near Winthrop and Brooklyn avenues, the 7 pm presentations include an evening of gospel on Aug. 3 featuring Ricky Dillard & The New G. The 2015 presentation also bills reggae talents Freddie McGregor, Christopher Martin and New Kingston Band for a limited Caribbean offering.

Oye Vey! Soca fans probably expecting the Mighty Sparrow or a reasonable facsimile will be disappointed that the genre is not represented and will not provide the spirited lead-in to the annual West Indian American Day Carnival Association’s fanfare to summer.

But who knows, Markowitz might be spotted walking or riding along Eastern Parkway when Labor Day welcomes millions to Brooklyn.

Take note, the Coney Island Seaside Summer Concert Festival may also be history. The country, rock, alternative and pop-oriented series will not be presented again this year.

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