Don Was Enlists Dark Star Orchestra, Lettuce & More For Inaugural WasFest Weekend

Other artists aboard for WasFest performances in Boston this June include Steel Pulse, Meshell Ndegeocello, Robert Glasper and Julian Lage.

By Scott Bernstein Apr 13, 2023 7:55 am PDT

Renowned musician, producer and Blue Note Records president Don Was can now add “festival curator” to his already illustrious resume. The Detroit native recruited some of his favorite artists to perform unique sets as part of the inaugural WasFest, a series of concerts coming to Boston’s Wang and Shubert Theatres June 23 – 25.

Dark Star Orchestra, Lettuce, Meshell Ndegeocello, Robert Glasper and Julian Lage are among participating acts reimagining epic albums and past shows over the course of the weekend. WasFest will be presented by the Folk Americana Roots Hall of Fame, an initiative of the Boch Center in Boston.

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The inaugural WasFest begins on Friday, June 23 with concerts at both the Wang and Shubert. Dark Star Orchestra will utilize the same setlist the Grateful Dead did at the Wang, then known as Boston Music Hall, on November 14, 1978.

Over at the Shubert, Meshell Ndegeocello will play her 1993 debut album, Plantation Lullabies, from front-to-back, while keyboardist Robert Glasper will songs from his three Black Radio LPs in presenting “The Best of Black Radio 1, 2 & 3.” Additionally, the show will feature appearances from Lalah Hathaway, Bilal and Stokley.

Jazz guitarist Julian Lage will be joined by his quartet and keyboardist John Medeski at the Shubert Theatre on Saturday, June 24 to cover Grant Green’s legendary 1964 record, Street Of Dreams, in its entirety. The night at the Shubert will start with the Gerald Clayton Trio offering a spin on the late Wayne Shorter’s 1966 album, Speak No Evil, accompanied by special guests Ambrose Akinmusire and Immanuel Wilkins.

WasFest concludes with a double bill at the Wang Theatre on Sunday, June 25 featuring Lettuce and Steel Pulse. Acclaimed vocalist Judith Hill will front Lettuce on a complete performance of Aretha Franklin’s iconic 1971 Live At The Fillmore West album with Steel Pulse set to play all of their 1982 LP, True Democracy.

“It was a pleasure to put this festival together, pairing some of my favorite artists performing today with some of my all-time favorite records,” explained Don Was in a press release. “Albums like Wayne Shorter’s ‘Speak No Evil’ or Grant Green’s ‘Street of Dreams’ don’t always get the attention they deserve, and I hope we can bring some incredible music to new audiences with WasFest.”

Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Friday, April 14) at 10 a.m. ET.

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