Friends of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival

Member Name:  John Tebeau

Where did you grow up? How long have you lived in Brooklyn?

John: I grew up in a waterfront town called Muskegon, Michigan and moved to New York with my wife, Colleen, 10 years ago. We spent our first three years in Manhattan, then I successfully lobbied for us to come to Brooklyn.

How long have you been a Friend of the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival?

John: This is my first year. The chance to support something so special about Brooklyn, share it with friends with our four seats and get an ad for my art business was too good a combination to pass up.

What brought you to the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival?

John: I miss going to the Lake Michigan beach in my hometown, so we try to embrace everything that’s special about New York in the summer, from picnics in Brooklyn Bridge Park to taking our bikes on the East River Ferry then riding a long, meandering route home. Celebrate Brooklyn is part of that plan.

Where do you spend the most time when you come to the Festival?

John: It depends on the show and who we’ve brought with us. Sometimes we stay put in the Friends Tent, if we get a table with a good sight line of the musicians. We’ve been grateful for the cover on a couple of rainy nights. Sometimes we like to have dinner in the tent, then get out on the 50-yard line for the best sound and view. How could we not get right out there for Tame Impala or Triplets of Belleville?

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

John: Eclectic, Surprising, Community

Annnnnd, woodsy. I love the trees that surround the Bandshell area.

Tell us about your concert going ritual. (What would we find in your picnic basket? Do you like to be the first one at the gate or to arrive just as the headliner is going onstage? Where do you prefer to sit?)

John: We feasted on homemade delicious salads with our friends Rick and Samara at Digable Planets. We grazed on appetizers with Dan and Sara before The Lumineers. We got Thai food delivered before Femi Kuti with Jordan and Amanda. We ordered what felt like everything on the menu from the Farm on Adderley with Lou and Mary Jean before dancing to Cubanismo, and the same before Tame Impala with our friend Matthew and his brother.

We love the comfort of the Friends Tent – there’s almost never a line for drinks or for the bathroom – but we love the seats down in front right in front of the band, too.  We typically like to arrive sort of early so we can chat with friends before showtime.

One thing that’s pretty consistent is we almost always ride our bikes, and use the bike corral. It’s a nice perk to not have to worry that our lights will get stolen or wonder if we can find a safe place to lock up. We also like to go out for a drink after weekend shows, to discuss the show and come down from the energy. I illustrate bars so I appreciate the good watering holes around Prospect Park and on our way home, including Tooker Alley, The Gate, Lucey’s and Prime Meats.

What’s your go-to meal from the Farm on Adderley?

John: We mostly bring our own food, but we like the Farm’s kale bowl and the tomato salad.

Since we’ve gone to so many shows this summer, we’ve mixed it up a lot to keep our dinners as fun and eclectic as the headliners. But we always buy beer and wine from the Friends Tent bar to help support the programming.

What’s your all-time favorite BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival concert?

John: My all-time favorite, no question, was my first Celebrate show – David Byrne in 2009. I was still relatively new to New York, living in Manhattan, and didn’t know a lot about Brooklyn. Friends invited me to join them for the Byrne concert. The singing, the dancing, the costumes, it all made my heart feel great. It was damn cold by the end of the show, and as we stood there (in shorts) watching his “Burning down the House” encore, the crowd going nuts, the lights behind him glowing red, orange and yellow, my friend Larry said “It’s like getting a suntan!” Man, that was a good night. I painted a portrait of Byrne later that month, inspired by that show (see below).

My favorite this year was Jon Batiste and Stay Human. They put on a show with so much heart and joy, with a set list that roamed from Beethoven to the National Anthem. But what put it over the top was when the band paraded out into the crowd, up the aisle and down our row, stopping directly in front of us. My wife, Colleen, had hopped onto her chair to let them through, then she hurdled back a row and Jon took her chair. “Sing to her, Jon!” his bandmate yelled, and he did, with, with that little piano-dealie you play like a horn. Where else could my wife get serenaded with a melodica in front of thousands of people?

David Byrne - 2009 - By John Tebeau.jpg

David Byrne (2009) By John Tebeau

What artist would you love to see at the Bandshell?

John: Well I’m an artist, but I don’t think you want to watch me draw for two hours, do you?

I would love to see Big Chief Bo Dollis, Jr. and the Wild Magnolias. New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians are a sight to behold, and the Wild Magnolias play some seriously heavy funk. There’s also an a cappella group from Canada called Cadence that would be pretty cool to see. John Cephas and Phil Wiggins would be good. And Mark Braun from Ann Arbor! Hey, how about Beck?

What would you say makes the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival stand out compared to other summer music festivals?

John: The other outdoor music festivals we’ve gone to, including the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Newport Jazz Festival, are so large, with huge crowds that include people from across the country and around the world. This feels more like a neighborhood event. We’ve unexpectedly bumped into friends. Even Lincoln Center Out of Doors, which is more on Celebrate’s scale, feels more like it belongs to the entire New York metro area, while this feels more Brooklyn.

How would you describe the Festival to a friend from out of town?

John: It’s sort of like a Brooklyn street fair-slash-block party with great performers of all kinds of music, plopped down in the middle of a park full of enormous trees.

What kind of impact would you say the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival has on the Brooklyn community?

John: It ramps up joy and togetherness in Brooklyn. Beyond offering entertainment, it’s chance for people to connect. Listening as people sing along in Spanish with Carla Morrison or watching people dance to Celia Cruz Tribute, you see how music creates community. I get caught up in it!

On Bastille Day, not long after we learned about the attack in Nice, we heard the live score of Triplets of Belleville here at the Bandshell and celebrated France. It felt like a life affirming response to something terrible and we did it as a community. The BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival is life affirming during these weird times.

What was your first BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival concert?

John: David Byrne in 2009. One of the best shows I’ve ever seen anywhere, not just my favorite here.

Do you have any memorable stories from past years?

John: The show that inspired me to look into membership was Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen last summer. My wife and I think of New Orleans as our second home, and my wife is especially a fan of New Orleans piano, so we were really excited to get to use the Friends seats that my wife’s co-working space, Brooklyn Creative League, shares with its members.

We strolled right in to front row seats and couldn’t believe how lucky we were to get to enjoy something so great within walking distance of our home.

Also, one year we came to see Dr. Lonnie Smith play. We love that guy. After his set, a dude named J. G. Thirlwell (who we’d never heard of) came out and tore the place up with his orchestral spy movie music. Turns out he did the music for one of our favorite shows, The Venture Brothers. Never would have known that or ever have seen him perform in our lives if it weren’t for the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival. That what I mean when I say this event is “eclectic” and “surprising.