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10th August Sessions at McPike Park brings global music and local entertainment together

Sona Jobarteh (Photo: Sessions at McPike Park)

The August Sessions at McPike Park will be returning for the 10th year for 2023 tonight and will continue on Saturday, Aug. 16 and Aug. 17 of next week. Each day will host a myriad of performances and entertainment at the park on Madison’s near-east side at 202 S. Ingersoll Street. 

Bob Queen has become a well-known event organizer in Madison over his last four decades of work, and the Sessions at McPike are of his creation. Now into a decade at McPike Park, the musical event is well established and hopes to draw a wide range of listeners. 

“Before it was improved, we did a couple of La Fête De Marquettes just to show the potential of it with the capital in the background and the stage where it is now,” Queen told Madison365, recalling the inaugural event in McPike’s current location when it was less hospitable as a park.

“The whole idea was having this as an event space, and a festival space with electrical and a bathroom. Some things didn’t turn out well, but we use it and love it. We feel at home here.”

The improvements at McPike Park have made it suitable to have a week-spanning celebration of music from across the globe, as well as opportunities to get local food from a variety of Madison vendors. Queen spoke on how gathering artists for the event is a mission of both expanding listeners’ knowledge of music, along with always looking for new areas to explore.

“Sometimes I have a craving for rockabilly or reggae, or whatever that we haven’t served as well as we could have in the past years,” Queen said. “I like to have diverse faces up on stage. That’s another thing, if I feel people are being underserved, that’s something that we have to act on.”

Community partnerships are a large aspect of Sessions at McPike Park as the six community non-profit partners of Centro Hispano, Community Immigration Law Clinic, The Native Food Network, The Friends of Ukraine- Madison, Urban League, and WORT-FM benefit from their shared relationship. The last day on Aug. 17 will also have raffles so attendees will also have a chance to take their chance to win prizes for local fun.

Queen is excited for people to check out a lot of the exciting musical acts coming such as Sona Jobarteh who is the first woman to be a professional kora player from a griot family, as well as Bon Bon Vivant who has been making waves in New Orleans. The four days will also host plenty of acts from around our Midwestern region. 

Getting people out to check out the music and be in community is the most important goal of the August Sessions at McPike Park, but Queen also hopes that community support can help maintain operations at the suitable and sustainable size that has worked so far. 

“I call it our preemptive strike fundraiser. We’re raising money before we’re in the hole. It took us a long time to pay our bills from last year, and we did pretty well. We’re living within our means. Some groups make really big events, we’re three tents and a stage. We have food vendors and their tents and people vending other things, but essentially that’s what we are. It’s so sustainable, our footprint is good, and we don’t trash the park … we love it.”


To learn more about Sessions and McPike Park and plan your attendance, visit their website here