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Celebrating 10 years, The Sessions at McPike Park set to kick off June 16

The Sessions at McPike Park is back to celebrate its 10th season this summer and will kick off on Friday, June 16. (Photo supplied.)

The Sessions at McPike Park, a popular summertime concert series featuring musicians from all over the world and benefitting a variety of Madison-area non-profits, is back to celebrate its 10th season this summer.

“The session started as the Central Park Sessions 10 years ago, So we’re celebrating our 10th anniversary and we’re pretty excited about that,” Bob Queen, the longtime Sessions at McPike Park creator, CEO and event coordinator, tells Madison365.

“Our events are known globally just because we’ve had some of the best artists from all over the world who have come into Madison to perform.”

The Sessions at McPike Park are held in two separate sessions this summer — one in mid-June and the other in mid-August. For the upcoming June sessions, called “The Pursuit of Happiness,” the whole list of bands that will be playing can be found here.

Headlining the upcoming “The Pursuit of Happiness” will be the following artists (bios courtesy of the Sessions at McPike Park webpage):

Xiomara Laugart Sánchez (Photo: Session at McPike Park)

⦿ Xiomara Laugart Sánchez is a Cuban singer currently based in New York City. Before emigrating to the United States, Laugart had an extensive career performing nueva trova music in Cuba and she has recorded over 17 albums.

Isaiah Collier

⦿ Isaiah Collier is a Chicago/Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, curator, activist, motivational speaker and educator. Collier is most known for his work as a saxophonist, and in addition to him being a drummer as well. Collier’s sound and approach are drawn from the influences of other masters saxophonists such as John Coltrane, Roscoe Mitchell, Wayne Shorter, Ari Brown and Gene Ammons.

⦿ Grammy-winning Aaron Lee Tasjan performs his own individualized version of “indie folk grit,” combining catchy melodies with virtuoso guitar playing. Solo after years of working with a diverse array of musicians from the glam punk band the New York Dolls to Texas country singer Pat Green to the folk-rock act Drivin N Cryin.

McPike Park, formerly known as Central Park, was officially renamed for longtime beloved Madison East High Principal Milt McPike in 2018 and is located on the near east side of Madison on the isthmus which makes it very accessible to all parts of the city. With a diverse line-up, diverse cuisines and diverse non-profits set up to benefit from the event, the Sessions at McPike Park have proved to be one of Madison’s more popular summertime events.

“The whole idea with our partners was to get people from all around the city and all types of people,” Queen says. “And when we first started off the Sessions at Central Park, we wanted people to come here and feel that the park was theirs …. not another Marquette Neighborhood event. We wanted people to feel welcome and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that … to have free events with the type of partners that we have had is just opening it up to the entire community because we have music that is multi-genre and our audience is multi-genre.”

The Sessions at McPike Park are free events for the community that also raise money for six area non-profits who are able to raise money for their organizations and promote their programs. The Sessions also funnel funds to these organizations through its raffle, auction, and profit-sharing plan.

“The six non-profit organizations that will be the beneficiaries of the Session include Centro Hispano, the Urban League of Greater Madison, the Native Food Network, the Community Immigration Law Center, WORT and the Friends of Ukraine-Madison,” Queen says.

Staff and supporters of Centro Hispano raise money for their organization at previous Sessions

“We have six great partners. They’re selling their raffle tickets and are distributing them right now. We set up a $6,000 raffle and so it’s a great fundraiser. Last year, I matched it as part of The Kathman/Queen Family Foundation …. We underwrite the event.

“The nonprofits are able to get up on stage and tout their programs. They have their own tents and they have a great time. I just think it’s terrific.”

Then there are a wide variety of restaurants at the Sessions like Lao Laan-Xang, Papa’s Barbecue, El Sabor De Puebla, M & J’s Jamaican K’chen, Paddy’s Patties, Les Delices de Awa, Mangoman, and El Coqui, Willy Street Easts, among others. There will also be a very diverse group of retail vendors at the Sessions, too, which officially kick off on Friday, June 16.

“We have vendors from all over the world and, of course, great food. We have great sponsors and great supporters,” Queen says. “It’s nice to have people supporting us through thick and thin. We have some amazing musicians performing and are looking forward to hopefully having some great weather this year.”