When “Celebrate Brooklyn” kicks off its 30th year on Thursday, June 12, the opening night entertainment will come from R&B legend Isaac Hayes. Known for hits like “Don’t Let Go” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” Hayes — who formerly lent his voice to Chef on “South Park” — will open a season that features performances by everyone from Deerhoof to Joan Osborn and the Mark Morris Dance Group. GO Brooklyn caught up with the singer during a break from recording his new album in Memphis and had a chance to chat about Hayes’s live music, ex-girlfriends and his favorite picnic food.
GO Brooklyn: Are you excited to be coming back to Brooklyn to open the season of performances in Prospect Park?
Isaac Hayes: It’s a fun place! I used to date a girl who lived in Brooklyn, and some of the people I work with live there, too.
GO: What can fans expect from your show?
IH: All the usual — the old songs like “Walk on By” and “Shaft” [are still popular].
GO: And you’ll be playing songs from the new album you’re working on, too?
IH: All the tunes! It’s got some new songs and some classics. I got 10 people in my band, they play keyboards and guitars and bass. I think there’s a real party atmosphere.
GO: Lots of people pack picnics for the concerts in the park. What snacks do you think are the best to bring along to an Isaac Hayes concert?
IH: Fried chicken.
GO: What do you have planned for the rest of the summer?
IH: [After the show in Prospect Park], I’ll come back to Memphis and go in the studio. I’ll probably go on the road again — to Atlanta and Los Angeles. Just getting ready for the new album!
Isaac Hayes will perform at 8 pm on June 12 at the Prospect Park band shell (enter park at Prospect Park West and 15th Street). Admission is free. The gala begins at 5:30 pm, and tickets are $300. For information, call (718) 855-7882 or visit www.celebratebrooklyn.org.