By Konstantine Fekos
Summertime in Diamond Park is the perfect venue for good old-fashioned community fun, according to organizers and volunteers setting up for this year’s Downtown Meadville Summer Concert Series, presented by Meadville Council on the Arts and sponsored by the Bush Investment Group.
The free five-concert series features an act a week every Thursday evening through July 25 and will include a variety of musical stylings from artists Meadville may not get to see otherwise, said Dave Washousky, concert series organizer and program director for the French Creek Valley Conservancy.
“We try to have an eclectic lineup and bring different types of music to Meadville,” Washousky said, using his experience as frontman of Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers to book regionally and nationally-acclaimed acts. “The goal is to bring bands and musicians to town who wouldn’t ordinarily stop here, so the community gets something new and unique from the start.”
Event organizers are excited to kick off the series Thursday with folk and bluesman Shakey Graves, of Austin, Texas, who’s been getting considerable attention nationwide.
National Public Radio Music named him one of 10 national artists fans “should’ve known in 2012,” according to committee members.
“He’s opening for major acts around the country,” Washousky said. “He plays a resonator guitar and finger-pick blues style. It’s pretty exciting to have him in Meadville from Texas.”
Following up from the Fourth of July on is Max Schang’s Hot Club Allegheny, a gypsy-jazz quartet from Sharon; Erie’s folk and Americana band Matt Texter and the Pennsylvania Two; the Allegheny Drifters, a prominent bluegrass group from Pittsburgh; and finally Edinboro’s Tiger Maple String Band, known for their “old time Americana” style.
“It’s a real family-friendly event with good old-fashioned entertainment,” said Christian Maher, executive director for the Crawford Heritage Community Foundation and concert committee member. “From a community standpoint, we want to promote downtown (Meadville) and get some people to enjoy the Diamond.”
Since the Summer Concert Series’ inception in 2010, sponsors and organizers set their sights on bringing the community together at a historical venue to enjoy several nights of music and fun, free of cost.
“It’s a marvelous and really grand addition to the community,” said Greg Bush, president and owner of Bush Investment Group, the lead sponsor. “We’re very proud to be part of this stellar event.”
Bush watched the Concert Series evolve and gain more attention over the years.
“The attendance has been spectacular from what I see,” he said. “The community has responded extremely well.”
Event organizers believe the concert series’ level of exposure will continue to build momentum and bring more people downtown.
“I think this year will go even better,” he said. “The response has been good and it always tends to build throughout the summer. We’re constantly working to make it bigger and better.”
Washousky, whose band Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers played at the inaugural concert series in 2010, also emphasized that the series wouldn’t go anywhere if not for the support of area volunteers and the financial backing of local sponsors.
“Without the community sponsors, we wouldn’t have a concert series,” he said. “It’s the group of community volunteers and sponsors that make it happen.”
Bush and Washousky invite the public to enjoy what they call a high-caliber and unique event in a beautiful historic area.
“It’s free, we’re bringing great musicians to town and it’s a great way to spend an evening in downtown Meadville with family, friends and community members,” Washousky said.
You can go
The Downtown Meadville Summer Concert Series runs every Thursday through July 25. All concerts will be held at 7 p.m. around the Dexter A. Bulen Gazebo in Diamond Park, Meadville. In the event of inclement weather, concerts will be moved to the rain location, Unitarian Universalist Church of Meadville, 346 Chestnut St.
The concert schedule is: Thursday, Shakey Graves; July 4, Max Schang’s Hot Club Allegheny; July 11, Matt Texter and the Pennsylvania Two; July 18, Allegheny Drifters; and July 25, Tiger Maple String Band.
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.