ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Party in the Park, a summer concert series in downtown Rochester, returns Thursday with music, food, drinks, shopping, and more.

Performing Thursday will be Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People and  Aaron Rizzo.

The event takes place at Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Park at Manhattan Square. Doors open at 5 p.m. with live music beginning at 5:30 p.m.

  • 5:30 p.m. — Aaron Rizzo
  • 6:45 p.m. — Danielle Ponder
  • 8:30 p.m. — Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe

General admission tickets are $7, while children 12 and under are free. VIP Ultra Lounge tickets are available for $55. You can skip the lines when you arrive by purchasing your tickets ahead of time online.

The VIP Ultra Lounge offers preferred entry, full cash bar, table service, private restrooms, front stage access, complimentary snacks, chair massages, and a commemorative lanyard.

Party in the Parkgoers can enjoy the Craft Beer Garden featuring a rotating showcase of beers, including New York state-based IPAs, ciders, and stouts, plus local favorites from Genesee. There’s also a Bubbly Bar with prosecco and mimosa, plus a Sangria Slushies stand for those who fancy such flavors. Food vendors are on a rotating scheduled to ensure variety as well.

Shoppers can check out the Bazaar in the Park — a weekly collective of designers, vintage collectors, and artisanal products for an experience around community, art, crafts, fashion, and discovery. New venders will arrive every other week, keeping the offerings fresh throughout the summer concert series.

Guests are allowed to bring one sealed bottle of water into the event. lawn chairs, bicycles, skateboards, in-line skates, and pets are not permitted. Officials say the no-smoking policy is enforced, but there are designated and marked smoking areas.

Parking is available in metered spaces on nearby streets; nearby parking garages including the Washington Square Garage, 111 Woodbury Blvd.; the Court Street Garage, 194 Court St. and at the East End Garage, 475 E. Main St.; and Midtown Garage, 110 S. Clinton Ave. A bicycle rack and HOPR bike- and scooter-share station are located at the corner of Chestnut and Court Streets; and MLK Park is on the RTS Monroe Route 11 bus line, which runs until midnight on weeknights.

Party in the Park continues next Thursday and all summer long:

  • Aug. 19: Third World; Root Shock; the Majestics
  • Aug. 26: Larkin Poe; Eric Krasno Trio: E3; Steve Grills and the Roadmasters;
  • Sept. 2: Zac Brown Tribute Band; Blue Sky Brothers

Band Bios

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe

Singer and saxophonist Karl Denson fronts the Tiny Universe as if he’s preaching the gospel. His energy and spirit are contagious while his songwriting serves a larger message of fellowship—across generations, genders, religions and cultures.  Not surprisingly, he’s none too pleased with the current state of political discourse. Thus the reason why KDTU’s new album, ‘Gnomes & Badgers’ (out now on Seven Spheres Records), is Denson’s hard-grooving answer to these tragically divisive times.

Highly regarded as one of the best live acts on the planet, KDTU distills the sweeping stylistic range of its concert performances into their own authentic sound featuring Denson and his long-standing seven piece unit. To aid him in his mission, Denson tapped some of his legendary friends, including The Rolling Stones’ keyboardist and Allman Brothers Band alum Chuck Leavell, guitar-slinging singer-songwriter Lukas Nelson, New Orleans guitar hero Anders Osborne, Austin producer and guitarist Adrian Quesada and NOLA R&B royal Ivan Neville. Along with KDTU, Denson serves as the touring saxophonist with The Rolling Stones, while continuing to hold down his role as a founding member of the seminal funk band, The Greyboy Allstars.

Danielle Ponder

American soul singer Danielle Ponder is both empowering and a powerhouse. In 2018, after five years as a public defender, she made the gutsy decision to quit and pursue her No.1 passion — music. Before receiving her Juris Doctorate, the Rochester, New York native performed for a decade in soul band Black August, releasing an album, toured Europe as a solo artist three times, and opened for John Legend, The Roots, George Clinton and St. Paul and the Broken Bones, but now she’s going full-force with music and has the undeniable star-power to do so.

“My mom always said, ‘You gotta know that you know that you know,’” says Danielle of leaving law.

Blessed with a booming effortless voice that hits you right-there, she has the kind of presence that commands attention, as she did all those times in court. “The courtroom is a stage,” she reflects. “In the court room, your goal is to tell your client’s story in a way that elicits empathy from the judge or jury; a good songwriter is trying to do the same thing, get the audience to feel and connect.”

Danielle’s forthcoming album, Some of Us Are Brave (due this fall) — self-produced with help from, Dave Drago and musical director Avis Reese — is a mix of complicated emotions covering social justice, love, and self-worth.

Aaron Rizzo

Aaron Rizzo is an American-born singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer born and raised in Rochester, NY. Self recorded, mixed and produced, Aaron Rizzo’s debut album “Blck Tee Shrt” hit stores on January 15th, 2017. Since its release, Rizzo has received public acclaim as well as the attention from fans of all genres.