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  • Writer's pictureJoey Amato

The Cabaret’s Free Outdoor Concert Series Is Going To Be Bigger Than Ever

The Alley Sessions are set to return for the fourth summer of free outdoor concerts, and they’re slated to be bigger and better than ever with more performers, live radio broadcasting with WICR 88.7FM on-site, and more. This year’s series is presented by Marianne Glick Art, with additional support from the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation.

Designed with the community in mind, guests can experience free live music and art in “The Alley” – a casual setting with café tables and chairs, shade umbrellas, and public art installations. The Cabaret’s summer experience will also include art vendors and dancing, creating a festival-like atmosphere. In partnership with the Jazz Kitchen, cocktails and light bites are available for purchase. Additionally, Indy Art’s Council’s Gallery 924 will be open at The Alley Sessions performances (excluding July 26, as they will be installing a new exhibition) for guests to peruse the works of local visual artists.


“The Alley is one of our favorite parts of summer – and we’re ramping things up this year to provide our community free access to the arts,” said Valerie Phelps, Artistic Associate at The Cabaret and curator of The Alley. “Attendance has more than doubled over the last few years, and we hope to continue that trend this year. We’re featuring even more performers than in previous summers, with multiple acts taking the stage at each event. Get ready for a variety of genres, including jazz, R&B, soul, funk, various Latin styles, spoken word, blues, and soul. Attendees can again shop from local vendors and partake in amazing food and cocktails by The Jazz Kitchen. All are welcome – kids, dogs, and anyone who wants a warm summer evening full of good vibes and great music!”


This summer, WICR 88.7 will also broadcast live during each performance, so the sounds of The Alley will reach even more ears and introduce series artists to new audiences who can enjoy and engage with their works.

While all shows are free to the public, artists and musicians are paid an equitable fee, and artisans are provided free booth space to promote and sell their works. Additionally, thanks to an “Art & Soul Activation Grant,” each evening will feature Indy Arts Council Art & Soul featured artists and alumni. Since 1996, Art & Soul has helped advance the careers of Black artists in Indianapolis.


This summer's series will include four Friday evening performances, kicking off on Friday, July 19, and running through August 9. Doors will open at 6 PM for guests to enjoy food & beverages, peruse a variety of arts vendor booths, play a game of cornhole, and take in the WICR 88.7 live pre-show remote. Shows will begin at 7 PM and end at 8:15 PM. All ages and well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome.

Opening night on Friday, July 19, is sponsored by The National Bank of Indianapolis and Andrew House and kicks off with acclaimed favorites Jared Michael & Premium Blend and singer and poet Okara Imani.


Led by saxophonist Jared Thompson, Premium Blend is a modern jazz quartet that combines traditional elements of bebop, hard bop, R&B, and groove in their original compositions. Backed by guitarist/songwriter/producer Ryan Taylor, keyboardist/songwriter Steven Jones, bassist Brandon Meeks, and drummer/producer Richard “Sleepy” Floyd, Premium Blend’s spin on jazz resonates with die-hard jazz fans and novices alike.

Singer, songwriter, and poet Okara Imani describes her voice as a conduit. “Philosophy and deep thought are the sources, with stylings drawn from classical art song, neo-soul, alternative R&B, soul, blues, music of diasporic African traditions, and oh-so-much jazz.” She's been writing prose, poetry, and melodies with the aforementioned influences for most of her life and has performed in top venues across the region.

July 26 is Latin Night in The Alley. Sponsored by Andrew House, the evening will begin with free pre-show dance lessons so that audiences can dance the night away to the lively rhythms of Grupo Bembé and Son De Esquina. Grupo Bembé is a family of musicians brought together by David Lugo to play cultural music from Puerto Rico and other Latin genres. Son De Esquina is a multicultural group led by Juan Manuel that plays modern/classic salsa, cumbia, and bachata.


Art & Soul Night will take place on Friday, August 2. Sponsored by Indy Arts Council and Andrew House, it will feature three Art & Soul artists: singer/songwriter Allison Victoria, Dexter Clardy of Shvdy Rollins (formerly Huckleberry Funk), and spoken word artist Jus Will. For more than 25 years, Art & Soul has helped launch the careers of emerging Black artists in central Indiana. Featured Artists are selected annually to be spotlighted at Art & Soul events and receive year- long career development support. And since this evening is First Friday, attendees will have access to the opening night of Gallery 924 before or after their show.


The final performance on Friday, Aug. 9, sponsored by The National Bank of Indianapolis and Andrew House, will feature two fan favorites: vocalists Goldie Ingram and Bashiri Asad. Goldie sings an array of genres, including jazz, R&B, blues, and rock, with a dash of country. Bashiri has developed a sound he calls “Indy Soul,” inspired by notes of Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, and Otis Redding.


Reservations are open now, and they can be made online at THECABARET.ORG/SHOWS or by phone at 317-275-1169. To learn more about The Alley, visit THECABARET.ORG/THEALLEY.


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