by Keith Loria
The summer months are the perfect time of year to get outside with your friends, friends and neighbors and enjoy great music provided by one of the multitude of summer concerts and series in our area.
It doesn’t matter what your musical style, there is something for everyone this summer season. From pop to jazz to classical to bluegrass to country — those in charge of creating the concert series have you covered.
A favorite of many in the area are the CHIRP concerts, a series of free Tuesday and Thursday night summer concerts at 7 p.m. at Ridgefield’s Ballard Park, that are ongoing until Sept. 1. The series started 15 years ago, thanks to Selectwoman Barbara Manners, and upwards of 500 to 1,000 people attend each show.
Upcoming performers are The Mammals, July 20; C.J. Chenier & His Red Hot Louisiana Band, July 25; the Stray Birds, July 27; the Sweet Remains, Aug. 1; Ruthie Foster, Aug. 10 and Harpeth Rising, Aug. 31.
Susan Moran, a trustee for the Weston Historical Society, said this year’s Music at the Barn outdoor concerts, held at the Weston Historical Society’s Coley Homestead, are sure to be a hit for people of all ages.
“Music at the Barn is a unique way to experience music with family and friends and to make new ones,” she said. “The big red barn serves as the stage for professional musicians. Parents can enjoy the music, while kids are able to get up, move around and dance.”
David Weber, who played drums with Copperhead, books the bands and tries to choose local musicians that he is familiar with, can deliver a good performance and have a local following.
“The ultimate goal is to grow the Music at the Barn series into an important community gathering and event, and for more people to become familiar with the Weston Historical Society,” Moran said.
The final two concerts of the summer will see singer-songwriter PJ Pacifico on July 23 and the Chris Coogan Jazz Quartet on Aug. 27.
Each show gets about 75-90 attendees. All shows start at 5:30 p.m. Admission is $10 per member, and $15 per non-member. Kids are admitted free.
Pequot Library has had summer music in the past with hundreds of people attending the concerts in the 220-seat auditorium, but 2017 marks the first time it has had an official Summer Music Series. The series features local teenage performers to seasoned performers who have been delighting audiences the world over.
“This concept has been expanded this summer to include a variety ticketed events and free concerts, both inside and outdoors, with the ticketed events supporting the free ones,” said Adair Heitmann, director of communications at the library. “Ticketed events throughout the year also help support Free Young Persons’ Concerts with Music for Youth and free concerts with organizations like the Great Bridgeport Youth Orchestras.”
Part of how performers are chosen is by their existing devoted following of fans at Pequot Library. For example, folks have been following (now) internationally-recognized 22-year-old Alex Beyer for several years. The classical pianist plays on Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for children.
The last concert of the summer will be a free outdoor concert featuring folk duo, Hungrytown on Tuesday, Aug. 29, at 6 p.m.
The Summer Concert Series at Ives Concert Park has been produced with various programming since 1984. Attendance varies based on the season’s programs but is estimated to be approximately 40,000 annually.
“The experience at the Ives is what sets us apart from other venues. We’re an outdoor amphitheater, tucked away in a lush oasis of natural beauty on Danbury’s west side on the campus of Western Connecticut State University with trees and stars as the backdrop to world-renowned artists in a wide variety of music and theater genres,” said Phyllis Cortese, executive director for the Charles Ives Authority for the Performing Arts. “A common love of the arts and the beauty of nature bring fans to our grounds. Their shared experience here keeps them coming back for more.”
Performers are selected based on tours that are routing in the area and genres that have historically done well at the box office. The series is also interested in emerging artists and providing opportunities to highlight the great local talent in WCSU’s backyard.
Upcoming performances include the Spin Doctors on July 22, the Happy Together Tour on Aug. 4, and the Forever Grateful Music Festival on Aug. 18 and 19. Ticket prices vary.
The Wilton Library’s Summer Music & More Concert Series came to be in the summer of 2001 thanks to its director at the time, Kathy Leeds, who wanted to change up what the library had been doing.
“Seventeen years later, we are going strong thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Village Market that receives a big applause at every concert for providing the funds to bring the bands in,” said Janet Crystal, marketing manager for the Wilton Library. “Our audiences love to hear covers of the music they grew up with, so I feature bands that evoke feelings anywhere from the ’40s up to the ’90s with an occasional present day thrown in.”
The series has on average about 160 people at each concert with some returning favorites bringing in larger audiences than that.
The free concerts are on Thursday nights in July from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Upcoming performers include Billy and the Showmen, ’60s/’70s R&B, July 20. On July 27, the series presents the Great American Songbook-style of the ’40s with Steve Kazlauskas performing Echoes of Sinatra.
“It is truly a chill party on a Thursday evening. We have great music, chips, dips and finger food, lemonade, ice tea and summer wine,” Crystal said. “We invite anyone who is in Wilton on Thursday nights in July to drop by and give us a try.
For more details about these concert series, as well as those in Monroe, Shelton Trumbull, Westport and elsewhere, check the Sound of Music listings.