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People have the power! Patti Smith urges at garden concert: ‘Use your voice’

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Updated Sun., Sept. 26, 9 p.m.: Patti Smith rocked the Elizabeth Street Garden on Saturday before a wildly appreciate crowd.

Accompanying her were Lenny Kaye on guitar and her daughter musician/environmentalist Jesse Paris Smith on keyboards.

The Little Italy green oasis is now under threat of eviction as Mayor de Blasio, in the waning days of his administration, suddenly is doing an end-around on a community lawsuit that is trying to block a housing project from being built on the site.

Smith and Kaye performed a three-song set. (Photo by The Village Sun)
Jesse Paris Smith, Patti Smith’s daughter, was tabling in the garden all day long. She was advocating for Pathway to Paris, her organization fighting climate change that aims to achieve and surpass the goals of the Paris Agreement. Pathway to Paris also hosted the garden event. (Photo by The Village Sun)

“It seems like we have to fight to keep places like this,” Smith said. “There used to be many.”

She wrapped up a three-song set with her rousing activist anthem, “People Have the Power.”

“Use your voice!” she urged the crowd at the end of the song.

Joseph Reiver, the garden’s executive director, got a hug from a friend after organizing the successful event. (Photo by The Village Sun)
Joseph Reiver said Patti Smith loved playing in the intimate garden venue. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Fitting for the beautiful green space, she also performed a 1970s song inspired by the Hopi Nation that she penned with Kaye.

Smith noted she kept the set short because she is about to go on tour for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

There were more than 600 people in the garden for the Patti Smith concert. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Joseph Reiver, the garden’s executive director, said afterward, “It was great. Patti Smith said she loved the intimacy of the venue and seeing people’s faces.”

After the show, Anthony Haden-Guest, the writer and cartoonist, said of the scene in the garden, “I’m glad to see young people with a spirit of hope.”

Joey Goodwin of Overthrow, left, was giving boxing lessons at the block party. (Photo by The Village Sun)
(Photo by The Village Sun)

Jeannine Kiely, the chairperson of Community Board 2, was among the crowd enjoying the concert.

“I’m a big Patti Smith fan, I mean big,” she said.

People could write down wishes and hang them in envelopes on clotheslines. No doubt many wrote that they wished the garden would be saved. (Photo by The Village Sun)
Deejay Jonathan Toubin, known for spinning soul grooves, left, was greeted by fans as he left the garden at the end of the concert. (Photo by The Village Sun)
Acapella Soul brought their smooth doo wop to the garden party. (Photo by The Village Sun)

As for “People Have the Power,” Smith said it was written in support of Jesse Jackson running for president.

“I have two children,” she said. “One’s name is Jackson and the other is Jesse.”


  1. Angela Rosa Angela Rosa September 30, 2021

    I lived in this neighborhood for years — was priced out. The owner, Mr. Reiver, kept it locked until just a few years ago. You had to enter through his store, if he let you. It has only recently become an “oasis.” We did without it for years. What the neighborhood does need — some affordable housing.

  2. Kathleen Treat Kathleen Treat September 27, 2021

    You GO! Patti. De Blasio should know by now that community gardens are crucial to communities. Hands off, Blaz!

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