Summertime and the picnic concerts are easy. Many are free, too, starting with Saturday night's opener of the 46th Summer Arts Festival at Huntington's Heckscher Park.
Martha Wash, aka "Queen of Clubland," comes to Huntington on the heels of her Tony Awards guest shot singing a blistering "It's Raining Men" with the cast of "Priscilla Queen of the Desert." Her 2007 hit, "Keep Your Body Working," was No. 1 on Billboard's hot dance club list.
Speaking of sizzling, Picnic Pops at Old Westbury Gardens opens its summer series Wednesday with Vanessa Trouble & the Red Hot Swing, presenting a mix of jazz and swing,
burnin'-love torchers and contemporary hits. Don't forget your dancing shoes. There's a dance floor in front of the stage, laid out on the Old Westbury mansion lawn.
You can find outdoor music venues all over the Island. Here are a few of the most picnic-friendly.
HECKSCHER PARK Grab a blanket or beach chair and sit in the shade while the sun sets over downtown Huntington. Following Martha Wash, it's Brooklyn's Persuasions, singing a cappella gospel/ pop on Sunday. Long Island jazz singer Jane Monheit vamps July 2. The Brooklyn Rundfunk Orchestra gets down and dirty July 23, followed by Anderson & Roe, the two-piano Pianofest of the Hamptons alums Aug. 5. The Long Island Philharmonic and Brother Joscephus & the Love Revival Revolution close out the season Aug. 13 and 14. But the emotional highlight will be the Chapin Family concert July 16 -- 30 years to the day since Harry Chapin died in a Long Island Expressway accident. Daughter Jen Chapin and Harry's brothers Tom and Steve are among the performers.
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PICNIC POPS The Fabulous 60s Rock Show Band invades Old Westbury Gardens July 6. The big band era returns with the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra July 13 and Vince Giordano & His Nighthawks July 20. Smithtown native Giordano and his ensemble are featured in HBO's "Boardwalk Empire." Louis, Louis & Louis, dedicated to the music of Louis Prima, Louis Armstrong and Louis Jordan, plays the picnic finale July 27.
MORGAN PARKThe 52nd Summer Music Festival opens July 2 on the Glen Cove stage overlooking Long Island Sound with North Shore Pops in a "Salute to Americana." The lineup ranges from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Band July 10 to Jimmy and the Parrots, a Jimmy Buffett tribute band, July 31.
INTERNATIONAL NIGHTS Musical heritage celebrations continue at Eisenhower Park's Lakeside Theatre with Turkish-American music followed by one of the most popular in the series, Italian-American Night . The series concludes with German-American Night Monday, Israeli-American Tuesday and Ukrainian-American Wednesday. Old-country picnic fare is encouraged.
Summer Arts Festival Heckscher Park, Huntington; free, most concerts at 8:30 p.m.; huntingtonarts.org, 631-271-8423
Picnic Pops Old Westbury Gardens, Old Westbury Road; $8-$10, gates open 5 p.m. Wednesdays, concerts at 7 p.m., oldwestburygardens.org, 516-333-0048
Summer Music Festival Morgan Park, Glen Cove; free, 7:30 p.m., morganparkmusic.org, 516-671-0017
International Nights Eisenhower Park, East Meadow; free, 7 p.m., www.nassaucountyny.gov/parks, 516-572-0200