It’s a little past the midway point of July, and all the summer concert series are in full swing by now.
Between Concord and Bow, you can catch some (mostly) outdoor music a few times a week all summer long. It’s the perfect time of year to sit outside, maybe have a little picnic and take in some cool, free tunes – yes, all of the concert series we’re about to mention are completely free and open to the public.
With the exception of only the most die-hard death metal or gangsta rap fans, all the music to be heard this summer is sure to appeal to pretty much everyone. From Americana to country to bluegrass to pop, there won’t be any offensive or objectively off-putting music filling the summer nights around here.
Since so many series are well underway, we got the chance to check out some shows last week to see what they were all about. While a brief thunderstorm disrupted some plans early in the week, we were still able to make it out to three shows, all of which were very entertaining and drew big crowds. We also learned a thing or two about each of the series.
Apart from the series, there are a few one-off shows on the calendar, too. We’ll save those for last since there’s a little more ground to cover with the ongoing series.
Eagle Square hosts live music every Thursday night from July 12 to Aug. 16. Concord Parks and Recreation puts on most of the shows, though a couple are facilitated through other parties. This summer, the city is putting on a whopping 14 shows, said David Gill, Parks and Rec director.
So with so many shows and so many talented musical acts in the area, how do they go about figuring out who to book?
“It’s a little bit of looking back at what’s been successful in the past,” Gill said. “Every now and again we try to bring in some new concert that we haven’t had in a couple years.”
One of those types of acts was The Blue Sky Boys and Cookie, whom Gill said haven’t played a summer concert in Concord in about 10 years. That all changed when they played at Eagle Square last week, a show we dropped in on.
The trio was doing some bluegrass, folksy kind of stuff that got a lot of feet tapping. Each of the band members sang, and each one could seemingly play about 20 instruments, too. It wasn’t this Insider’s favorite kind of music in the world, but it certainly made for a fun and relaxing night out.
Gill said that most bands either send CDs or send links to websites where the music can be heard ahead of time. Then it’s up to Parks and Rec to determine which acts would be best.
“We try to have a good mix, kind of all genres,” Gill said.
The Eagle Square shows start at 7 p.m. every Thursday, and the remaining schedule is as follows:
This Thursday: Shana Stack Band
July 26: Club Soda
Aug. 2: Freese Brothers Big Band
Aug. 9: ’60s Invasion
Aug. 16: Entrain
The Presidential Oaks retirement community hosts live music on Tuesday nights starting at 6:30. The series began in 2011, and they try to put on at least seven shows a year, said Krista Marrs, director of communications and marketing.
When the weather is nice, the bands set up shop right on the picturesque front lawn, which provides a nice view of the city from that high vantage point. When it rains (or threatens to), they just bring the show inside to their very adequate auditorium with a stage, chairs and air conditioning. Bottled water and bags of Smartfood are provided free of charge.
If you want to make a whole date night out of it, you can also book a dinner reservation for $8 a person. Dinner will be served at 5 p.m., with the concert starting an hour and a half later. Just call Marrs at 724-6111 to find out what’s on the menu and to make a reservation.
When we stopped by last Tuesday, there was a real threat of a thunderstorm coming through, so they hosted the Bedford Big Band in the auditorium.
The auditorium was comfortable and provided plenty of room for the few dozen spectators. Plus, with the concert taking place between walls and a ceiling, the sound really carried and filled the whole room – no interference of traffic noise or wind or birds or anything like that. The band played some classic hits from Sinatra’s era and even before, with a variety of soloists showing off some skills.
While the shows are primarily for the residents of Presidential Oaks, they are open to the public, and the music is easygoing. The remaining schedule is as follows:
Tonight (July 17): Hopkinton Town Band
July 24: East Bay Jazz
July 31: Freese Brothers Big Band
Aug. 7: Nevers’ Second Regiment Band
Live Music on the Lawn
Concord Public Library is in its fourth year now of hosting the Live Music on the Lawn series. Guess what it entails?
That’s right – it’s live music, on the lawn.
The library hosts three shows a summer right outside the building, with the bands setting up on the closed-to-traffic Prince Street and the audience pulling up on the library’s side lawn. With the closed street and energetic music, these concerts have a festival-type atmosphere to them. There’s also food provided by Constantly Pizza, Dos Amigos and Kona Ice, so you can snack on something while listening to some tunes.
“There’s a few of us at the library who try to keep on top of various bands in the general area,” said Nicole Schulze, adult services and outreach coordinator.
The first show was Nick’s Other Band in June. Next up is the ExP Band, who will play this Wednesday at 6 p.m. Finishing off the series will be the well-known Club Soda Band on Aug. 15, also at 6 p.m.
Bring a lawn chair or a blanket – and your dancing shoes – and get over there and have some fun.
Bow Rotary Club
The Bow Rotary Club has its own summer concert series, with shows every Sunday evening at 6 at the town gazebo on Knox Road. That venue is the perfect spot for summer shows – there’s enough lawn there for probably 5,000 or more people to comfortably enjoy the show, not that there are even that many people in Bow (kidding).
Apart from the music, there are also food and drinks for sale, creating another festival kind of scene.
We checked out last Sunday’s show featuring the Lakes Region Chordsmen, an a capella group. There was a big crowd, most parked in lawn chairs with sun umbrellas – signs that this audience was well-prepared for this warm, sunny evening. The group played classic hits including “This Little Light of Mine” that everyone seemed to enjoy.
The rest of the schedule is as follows:
July 22: Freese Brothers Big Band
July 29: Uncle Steve Band
Aug. 5: Mink Hills Band
Aug. 12: Hickory Horned Devils
Aug. 19: Honey Bees
The Nevers’ Second Regiment Band has been around since the Civil War, and they’re still kickin’ (we assume it’s not still the original lineup). They don’t have one set venue, so they play all over. Many of their shows fit into any number of summer concert series over the course of the year, but one thing is for certain – they’re always playing, and playing well.
The band plays perhaps the widest assortment of music out of any local act. On any given night you’re likely to hear the Jurassic Park theme song, the national anthem, the 1812 Overture and the Beatles – what’s not to like?
They were scheduled to play at the State House last Tuesday, but that was the night of the thunderstorm and the State House grounds were barren. That’s because the group plays indoors at South Congregational Church in the event of rain on Tuesday nights. Concord Parks and Rec posts updates on its Facebook page if a show is going to be moved indoors.
The remaining schedule is as follows:
Today (July 17): Rolfe Park at 7 p.m.
July 24: Keach Park at 7 p.m.
July 31: State House at 7 p.m.
Aug. 7: Presidential Oaks at 6:30 p.m.
There are a few shows this summer that don’t fit into any larger series, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth checking out.
On of these shows is the Pierce Manse open house and ice cream social on July 26. There will be ice cream and general fraternizing from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., then the 39th U.S. Army Band will play a lawn show at 7 p.m. You’ll want to bring a chair to this one.
On Aug. 9, Concord Parks and Rec will host Hokuto Taiko Dojo Drumming at Keach Park at 6 p.m. Since this will take place basically right behind the new City Wide Community Center, the show can move indoors to the center’s auditorium if bad weather shows up.
And last but absolutely not least is the Rock On Fest. This festival of basketball and music is put on by Concord celebrity Luke Bonner with the assistance of his NBA champion and cult hero brother, Matt. The Rock On Fest will take place right in the heart of downtown over the course of two days in August, with tons of music plus a lot of basketball and other family-fun activities. The music will all go down Aug. 11, a Saturday.
Here’s the music schedule:
Merrimack County Savings Bank Stage
2 p.m.: Mr. Aaron
3 p.m.: Laid To Dust
4 p.m.: Babylawns
5 p.m.: Honeysuckle
6:15 p.m.: Damn Tall Buildings
7:45 p.m.: Overcoats
Noon: Youth Recital
3:30 p.m.: Hoonah
4:30 p.m.: Steven Chagnon
5:45 p.m.: Alan Getto
7:15 p.m.: Ethyric
As we mentioned, the Rock On Fest has so much more to offer than just live music, but we only have so much space here. To learn more about the rest of the festival, search for Rock On Fest on Facebook or go to rockonfoundation.org.