Groovin’ on up at the 40th Street Summer Series

Grab the kids and blanket, stroll over to the Walnut West Free Library, and claim your spot on Saturday, May 25, for the first of five free family-friendly outdoor concerts thrown by the 40th Street Summer Series

Now in its ninth year, the series will feature live musical entertainment on the last Saturday of each month, May through September.

“We’ve really seen the audiences grow and become more and more diverse over the years,” says the University City District’s (UCD) Mark Christman, an organizer of the series. “We’re particularly excited about the quality and diversity of this year’s acts. It’s truly become a celebration.”

The performances are staged in the green space behind the Free Library at 40th and Walnut streets in a street fair atmosphere complete with Philadelphia’s own Give and Take Jugglers, fire artists, face painting, balloon art, and more. Complimentary Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and pretzels will also be provided during the performances on a first-come, first-served basis.

The series kicks off at 6 p.m. on May 25 with a performance by Brooklyn Qawwali Party, an 11-piece brass band from New York City. The group reworks 700-year-old Pakistani folk music and pays tribute to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a world-renowned Pakistani musician. The concert opens with a performance of Arab music by members of Al-Bustan's Resident Ensemble.

UCD, The Rotunda, and Penn collaborate each year to present the series. Other artists featured include the Philadelphia Ukulele Orchestra on June 29, the Spaceship Aloha on Aug. 31, and the Millennial Territory Orchestra on Sept. 28.

Interpreting the music of the 1920s and 30s, the Philadelphia Ukulele Orchestra is a 12-piece ensemble comprised of bohemians, libertines, and ukulele enthusiasts who are on a mission to promote truth and beauty through what are perhaps the most democratic of musical instruments.

Spaceship Aloha is the vibrant new sonic move from Man Man drummer/producer Christopher Sean Powell. Their music is a kaleidoscope of lush melodies and joyous electronic rhythms inspired by Hawaii’s musical landscape.

Grammy nominated trumpet/composer Steven Bernstein leads his 12-piece Millennial Territory Orchestra through the songbook of Sly & The Family Stone.

The July 27 performers will be announced soon.

For more information about the performances, visit the 40th Street Summer Series website.