Friends of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival

Member Name: Carol and Joel Levy

What are the top three words you would use to describe the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival?

Joel: I would just say the best, but that’s only two words! The best show in town!

Carol: New acts. That’s what I like best about the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, seeing somebody I’ve never heard of before. It’s nice to see big names but I think it’s much more exciting to find somebody new. New, fun, and it’s probably pretty lame, but we live across the street, so I have to say, incredibly convenient.

What is your favorite concert that you’ve been to here?

Carol: Now, see, that’s hard. It’s not possible to give you one. There have been so many really, really—

Joel: How about Leonard Cohen?

Carol: Well, that was amazing, the Leonard Cohen tribute. Every year, there was a great Canadian night as well. That was always so good… they had Cat Power one year. Rufus Wainwright, I was introduced to him at that concert, and we saw him twice more. I think he’s fabulous, I think he’s the greatest all-around music talent of his generation.

How long have you been members? And how long have you lived in Brooklyn?

Carol: We came back to America in 2001 in March, and we came that summer.

Joel: And we haven’t missed since! We lived abroad for 31 years before moving back.

So when you moved back, you moved right across the street? What brought you to the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival?

Joel: Proximity.

Carol: When we don’t want to come, we open the window.

Joel: On rainy nights, we’ll just listen from home.

Carol: We were here one year, I think it was Opening Night with Marcia Ball, who plays the piano and sings sort of jazzy kind of stuff, and it was pouring. And there was no one here, but we were here.

Joel: When you live so close by, it’s so easy.

What are some artists you’ve always hoped to see at the Bandshell?

Joel: Well, you should invite Clare Burson. She lives in Brooklyn, she’s a songwriter and sings, plays the guitar, and she is fantastic, and nobody knows about her. Check her out.

Carol: She wrote a song cycle, Silver and Ash, based on her grandmother’s life. She’s exceptional.

Joel: She would be a really, really good one.

Carol: Antony and the Johnsons, but he’s not called Antony anymore, he changed his name because he’s not a male and not a female person. I think he goes by Anohni now. There’s no one that has a voice like that. You hear a tenth of a second, and you’ll say, that’s it. I’ve heard him on soundtracks and immediately I know it’s him. Unbelievable sound, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful music. I’d like to see Meredith Monk. I would really like to see Leonard Cohen. I would like to see the jazz pianist Aaron Diehl, he’s fabulous.

Joel: He’s one of the best in the world.

Carol: I love the dance here. We’d never heard of Philadanco before we came here, and now we adore Philadanco. We’ve seen Mark Morris and it’s very nice to see him here. Who else would I like to see? I think that’s enough for now.

Joel: Béla Fleck would be great here. Do you him? Banjo player, he’s fantastic.

Carol: They’re called the Flecktones.

Joel: He would really be great, he’s got a huge audience.

Carol: He has a CD called Perpetual Motion, and they didn’t speed it up, and you can’t believe he’s really playing like that.

Do you have any memorable stories?

Joel: Sitting in the rain, singing in the rain.

Carol: Well, we do something nice a few Friday nights. We’re here for Friday night concerts because we observe the Sabbath and we found some friends here, and well, on Saturday night we did the end of Sabbath ceremony. It was really very nice to do it here.

Carol: Oh, and one more thing I remembered –Milton! He was always at the front of the house, and he collected pins. He’d put them on his tie and everyone would bring him pins to add. He was the real spirit of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival. He retired I think three or four years ago. And I miss him. At the end of the season, we’d all give him hugs and say see you next year, and then one year he didn’t return. I was so sad to hear he retired.

Since you’ve been coming here for years, what kind of impact would you say that the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival has on the community?

Carol: It opens people up to new artists. To me, that’s the greatest thing about it, and I think it’s a good idea to come. You know, you’ve never heard of somebody, you don’t know who they are, you come! I tell everybody they have to join BAM and they have to come to Celebrate Brooklyn. I really like it. I think the neighborhood should turn out in force.

Joel: There’s also something to be said for the people around the concert who actually don’t come inside. They just have picnics and so on and it’s fabulous, because all these people spill over. These people have kids that want to run around, they want to talk and whatever, and they want to hear the music but they also want to talk with their friends and it’s fabulous. Some inside, some outside—I think it’s great!

Carol: Yeah, the dynamic in different places is very interesting to me. To be up on the hill, picnicking, we’ve done that sometimes with a bunch of friends, and that’s nice. But we really want to pay attention to what’s going on. I like to sit up front. I don’t like anybody in front of me, because you can see the size of me! So I like to sit in the very front. I spent my whole life sitting on phonebooks. I’d get my hair cut, sit on phonebooks—story of my life.