ZUMIX Summer Concerts 2021

Written by Najwa Aswad, ZUMIX Events Coordinator

After 18 months dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, life in Boston is slowly moving back to normal as schools reopen and vaccines roll out to the general population.

ZUMIX summer concerts came back this year with a vengeance, filling East Boston’s Piers Park with music all summer long. We had an amazing variety of performances this summer, but here are some highlights:

Led by ZUMIX’s own Ben and Brian Paulding, Rhythms of Ghana is ZUMIX’s African drumming ensemble. The ensembles only had a few in-person performances before their big debut—the rest were conducted virtually! The ensemble still performed at a high level, accompanied by Ghanaian singer Koblavi Douga, who is based in Vermont.

Paulding joined Kotoko Brass on stage once Rhythms of Ghana completed their performance. Douga got the crowd moving with rhythm dance moves. Kotoko Brass combines traditional African music with New Orleans jazz and energized the crowd with a thriving brass section, accompanied by eclectic traditional drums and a grooving backline.

Johanna Affelin is one of ZUMIX’s most talented singer-songwriters. She has been attending our programs since she was 7 years old! Her biggest musical inspirations are her Brazilian heritage and Nina Simone. Johanna showed her talent in singing, ukulele, and piano as she graced Piers Park with her voice, reminiscent of acclaimed singer Norah Jones. 

Dzidzor and her ensemble brought eclectic sounds full of stories and facilitated powerful meditation among the crowd. Using a loop synthesizer, Dzidzor combined world-music influences with modern synthesizer techniques to produce an enthralling soundscape. The best part was the jam at the end, when Johanna came back onstage and lent her voice (literally!) to a stellar improvisation.

The final summer concert was the perfect event to honor the Hispanic community of East Boston. ZUMIX board member and Salsa y Control dance instructor Johnny Giraldo led a short dance lesson to warm up the crowd and teach some simple moves. The lesson was his gift to ZUMIX for our 30th birthday!

Manolo Mairena y La Pura Vida could not have been a better way to end our summer concert series. La Pura Vida grooved effortlessly with keys, congas, percussion, and a drummer setting the pace. Victor Mairena, the band’s founder and lead singer, belted lyrics in Spanish while half of the neighborhood descended into the park, many of them with dance partners. East Boston residents continued dancing salsa into the evening as the sun set over the harbor and Boston’s skyline. It was truly a magical night.

Finally, a huge statement of gratitude goes to ZUMIX’s Live Sound Service team. We couldn’t do these great live concerts without them! Thank you to anyone who volunteered, donated money, or simply enjoyed these live events. We look forward to our series of summer concerts next year. 

If you have suggestions on how to improve the ZUMIX Summer Concert experience, please contact Events Coordinator Najwa Aswad at najwa.aswad@zumix.org.    

Big Worlds – Live Broadcast *Recap!*

Here at ZUMIX Radio we’ve been experimenting more with broadcasting live concerts that are hosted in the firehouse and fortunately we’ve had a series of shows that highlighted all kinds of local musicians. The series, named ‘Big Worlds’, explored culture through music, pop-ups and food and with a radio station and youth hosts we were able to broadcast the energy outward!

Below you will see behind the scenes photographs for each of the three events. From the outward facing parts like the show itself and performances to the more hidden parts of what made the radio broadcast possible from mixing to hosting. We hope you take a look and listen to the shows below through the lens of ZUMIX Radio. Enjoy!

Big Worlds 1

“It’s kinda like a time capsule. It’s an experience that happens for a group of people in the room and then shared with Boston. It’s a special memory for the future” – Brittany Thomas, ZUMIX Director of Creative Media and Technology

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Big Worlds 1 is an immersion into the realm of Hip-Hop, R&B, and Future Soul. This recording has performances by Oompa, Project Method and more!

Big Worlds 2

“The room mics are a big part of the sound. I wanted people listening to the radio broadcast to feel that it was a live show. I’m used to mixing front of house so it was a fun to be upstairs and blind so to speak. I depended on them downstairs to make sure we captured all the instruments and performers” – Edward Emerson, Creative Tech Manager

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Big Worlds 2 is an immersion into Indie, Alternative and DIY Culture. This recording has performances by Anjimile, Nakedly, Really From and more!

Big Worlds 3

“The ‘Salsa y Control’ Dancers were amazing! I had a great time dancing with my community members. It was fun to see latin ensemble share the stage with so many talented musicians. When’s the next one gonna be? I want it to happen again!” – Sarah Saydun, Pathways Manager

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Big Worlds 3 is a dive into the vibrant culture of Latin dance music, specifically Salsa y Mambo. Featuring ‘Clave and Blues’ and Latin Ensemble.

Looking back…

Looking back at all three events we’re able to see how sharing these live music events over the air was and is a great opportunity to highlight local artists and push exciting radio programming on the station. Youth really were able to try their hand at bringing the best sounds to your ears. From hosting on stage, mixing front of house and being behind the mic in the radio room, Youth really brought together the shows in a special way for the first series of ‘Big Worlds’ We hope you enjoy the sounds and visuals!

Pathways Speaker Series: Art With a Heart


By Kaylene Sheran, Pathways Intern

Have you ever heard a song, read a book, or watched a play that had the power of connecting with you on a personal level? On July 21st, ZUMIX Pathways hosted it’s second Summer Speaker Series event, “How To Use Art For Healing’. The Summer Speaker Series is a collection of four “how to” events created to help ZUMIX youth, staff, and other community members to connect with professionals in various industries, with a goal of helping people learn about various careers. At this panel, there were six panelists from various art fields who have used art to help others heal.

Many of the panelists, including Cliff Notez, the founder of Hipstory and New Music Programs had shared how creating his own music has also helped him to heal from his own personal challenges. Cliff spoke about the challenges that he faced in regards to living in America as a man of color and how music was always his main outlet to help him heal from the trauma that he faced. Noemi Paz, the founder of “Sharing Our Stories” also spoke about how helping others who have faced sexual traumas has helped her to overcome the pain that she faced from her own trauma.

Other panelists who spoke included: Yadriane De Angel, a music therapy student at Berklee and musician who aims to help other people through giving them the ability to create music; Dee Diggs who helps marginalized groups of people to heal through her DJing at Evlv Tech; KC Mackey, who aims to help African American individuals through her DJing; and Allyssa Jones, who helps children to heal through performing arts. At the end of the panel, audience members were enthusiastic towards asking the panelists more about their careers. The audience Q&A session was particularly exciting for many ZUMIX youth since many of them plan to help others through the arts when they are older.

The next Summer Speaker Series panel will be on Thursday, August 3rd 2017 from 6-8pm, and the topic of this panel will be “How To Be Your Own Boss’, which will feature many chief executive officers from various businesses along with entrepreneurs. All Summer Speaker Series events will take place at ZUMIX. These events are free, open to the public, and open to people of all ages to attend! We hope that you will join us!

HipStory House Band at ZUMIX

By Saphire Broxton, Events Intern

This past Saturday, July 29th, Boston-based hip-hop group HipStory ended their tour with a concert at ZUMIX! HipStory is a group made up of different Boston artists – such as Cliff Notez and Oompa – whose art often focuses on topics such as what it means to be Black in America. Some of the members, like Oompa, were even ZUMIX youth or involved in ZUMIX when they were younger. Cliff Notez was at ZUMIX two weeks ago for our Summer Speakers Series as one of our panelists, discussing “How to Use Art for Healing”.

The concert began around 7:30, with ZUMIX youth hip-hop band Project Method opening for the group. One member, Dawry Ruiz, started with a spoken word piece about life in America as a person of color, before they began to perform some of their music. As the group performed, the audience was enthused by Chad Williams’s sick dance moves and inclusion of the audience in their performance.

After Project Method, ZUMIX alum and friend of HipStory Nick Shea performed a short impromptu original set.

By the time HipStory went on stage, the place was filled with audience members of all kinds of ages, ready to be entertained. Tim Hall, a member of HipStory who was on the saxophone for the night, started the show by hyping the audience, before introducing the other artists to the stage.

The night was met with music from each of the artists – Oompa, Cliff Notez, and Forté – as well as some special guests and the chance for audience members to buy some merchandise. The music itself was powerful, and at times so raw your heart hurt a little bit; they sang about lost love, black power, those days when getting up is just too hard, losing family members, and more. Yet, they still kept things lighthearted too: they ended the night with their “get lit” songs, including one about black female empowerment.  There were also some pretty funny moments, like when Oompa sang to one of the audience members –  ZUMIX youth Mario, from Wild Painting.

Throughout the set – HipStory kept the audience in check by ranking the energy of the room on a scale. At intervals the room progressed from 5/10 to 8/10. Although it was never announced whether we reached level 10 – I think it’s safe to say we did.

Keep up-to-date with HipStory by visiting their website, www.hipstory.org and following them on their social media platforms:

Tumblr: https://thehipstory.tumblr.com/

Twitter: thehipstory

Facebook: TheHipStory

Wild Painting Album Release Party

By, Saphire Broxton, Events Intern

This past Saturday, July 22nd, at the ZUMIX firehouse, Wild Painting had their first album release party for their new album, Emotions! Wild Painting is a group made up of ZUMIX youth and who has spent the last few months working with ZUMIX staff such as Dan Fox and recording in the ZUMIX studio to put together their album. Emotions features 8 tracks and includes upbeat songs such as “Within (You)” as well as more chill, deep songs like “Distractions”.

The vibe at the party was very relaxed and calm, with low light, softer music, and twinkly lights around the stage and the tables. There was pizza and dessert, as well as disposable cameras that could passed around for everyone to take pictures on. They were selling CDs, as well as some art from local artists.


To start the night, the bands Tribe Sweat and Mint Green performed, hyping the audience for Wild Painting’s set. By the time the band was ready to perform, the crowd had grown quite large, with excitement and anticipation in the atmosphere. When the band did come on, they were welcomed warmly by the crowd – all there to support Wild Painting and congratulate them on their milestone.

Half way through the set, there were some technical difficulties, but Wild Painting took them in stride and opened the mic up to the audience to tell some jokes while the difficulties were fixed. Even the bassist, Juan Gutierrez, joined in and told a joke.

The band’s set was a mix of originals from their album and covers, such as “Love Me” from The 1975; for some of the songs, it was the first time the band had performed them live. They even brought in another ZUMIX youth, Project Method’s Dawry Ruiz, to perform a song with them as a surprise for the audience.

They ended the night with a dance party on stage, a Stranger Things theme song remix, many thank you’s – including ZUMIX staff, their parents, and their friends – and by signing CDs.

Now that Emotions is out, I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about Wild Painting in the very near future! Listen to and download Emotions here: http://www.nimbitmusic.com/zumix/

Follow their Instagram: wildpainting.band

Wild Painting will be performing at The Hatch Shell on August 9th.

Career Panels with a Twist

By Kaylene Sheran


Summer vacation for some means spending time at the beach, but for youth at ZUMIX, it means scrambling to find summer employment, spending hours upon hours on perfecting college applications, and thinking about the future. One way that many youth and community members began focusing on their futures this summer was through attending the first of four Summer Speaker Series events this past Friday.

The Summer Speaker Series is a series of “how to” events where professionals in various industries come together at ZUMIX to speak to members of the audience about what their jobs entail on a day-to-day basis. These events were organized in an effort to help the community with exploring various careers in which they may be interested.

This week’s “how to” event was “How To Find A Path You Love Even If You Don’t Know What You Love”. At this panel, we had professionals from various industries such as education, marine science, digital technology, and computer science. Based on the enthusiasm that every panelist showed when speaking about how they got on the career path that they are on today, it was obvious that our panelists truly loved what they do.

Some panelists, such as marine scientist Caitlin Shea-Vantine, who calls herself the “fish enthusiast”, knew that she had an interest in studying aquatic animals from a young age. However, Ashely Harton-Powell, an academic coach, didn’t realize that she had an interest in working with youth until she did some trial-and-error through going to a health careers based high school and realizing that the medical field wasn’t for her. At the end of the event, the audience was eager to ask numerous additional questions to the panelists and breaking into small groups. At the end of the panel, one of the panelists, Caitlin, even got the opportunity to explore another path that she seemed to love; music! She got to jam out with ZUMIX youth, Juan Gutierrez.

Overall, the first panel of the Summer Speaker Series went extremely well and we are all looking forward to meeting the panelists at our upcoming panels! The next Summer Speaker Series event will be on July 21st from 6-8pm.

Our next event will be “How To Use Art For Healing”, and we have artists who specialize in music, body language, performing arts, DJing, and visual arts. All Summer Speaker Series events are free and open to the public! We hope that you will be able to attend!

ZUMIX Youth Interview Local Hip-Hop Artist Latrell James

Last month, ZUMIX packed the firehouse for an electric hip-hop extravaganza. ZUMIX youth Jr. Biggie opened for local hip-hip acts Oompa and Latrell James. These artists’ powerful poetry and commanding stage presence brought the house down for a night to remember. In preparation for the big performance, the hosts of Ramble Radio interviewed Latrell James and Jr. Biggie on 94.9 FM ZUMIX Radio. Check out the following clip in which ZUMIX youth and Latrell James bond over the unparalleled creativity of young people and their love of cartoons:

Also take a listen to this impromptu freestyle session between Latrell James and ZUMIX youth Biggie Jr. and Chad Williams: