The third annual Meaford Summer Concert Series kicks off on July 13 at the Market Square, with the first of four free live concerts lined up for Friday nights in July and August.
Once again the series will feature young local performers opening for more seasoned acts.
“The idea behind the whole series when we first started it was to bring people to the downtown core,” said Chris Scerri, who originated the series and has organized it again this year. The concerts are designed to bring “tourists, residents, even cottagers (to) enjoy a free show and bring some business into downtown Meaford.”
Scerri has put together a program that brings together some of the great musicians he has seen and worked with in the area.
“I try to have different styles of music through the summer,” he says. “And at the same time look at what the budget allows to try to get the best entertainment possible for the money and who’s available.”
The series kicks off on July 13 with The Collective, a band of seasoned veterans that performs regularly at The Harbour Street Fish Bar in Collingwood.
“They are a collection of amazing artists that have played with the who’s who of rock and roll and everything else in North America over the last few decades. They play a bunch of Motown stuff, a little bit of rock and roll and a little bit of blues but it’s kind of like the hits of a few decades ago. And they’re amazing players. They have a lot of energy.”
Energy is an important component when choosing the acts.
“I try to bring in bands that have energy so that people are up and dancing, jumping around rather than just listening. I think that an outdoor festival should have a lot of those kinds of things.”
For the July 27 show, Scerri has brought Chuck Jackson and the All Stars for a night of blues.
“Chuck Jackson is the front man for the Downchild Blues Band but he’s also had a band called Chuck Jackson and the All Stars going for many, many years,” Chris said, adding, “In Port Credit they have a matinee they play every Sunday at the Rock 'n Docks which is full every week. Usually it’s Pat Carey from Downchild that plays sax with him and Tyler Yarema will sit in on keyboards. When they’re playing here this summer it will be Tyler on keys, Pat on sax and they’ll have a drummer and bass player with them as well.”
The opener on that night will be Sophie Wensley, a young local R & B singer.
The concert on August 3 features the Allison Young Quintet.
“Alison Young is a swing jazz sax player that was part of our show at the Marsh Street last year for their 90th Anniversary,” says Chris, “and she’s also a great singer and so she has a band that she’s going to bring up and they’re going to be more of a swing band and that’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Opening for her will be singer-songwriter Miranda Journey from Wasaga Beach, who has impressed local audiences as part of Auburn Falling, a duo in which she performed with James Stephens.
Sean Cotton has played as a solo performer a few times at The Leeky Canoe, but his show on August 24 includes The Muskoka Connection.
“He’s phenomenal on his own,” says Scerri, “but he’s a rock and roll and country kind of a guy and with a full band he’s a great electric guitar player and singer. He lives in Muskoka right now and he’s made up a great network of great musicians from there. So he’s going to bring a group of them down to play with him.
“And he has ties to Meaford too,” Scerri adds. “He has family in Meaford as well so he’s indirectly local.”
Opening for Sean Cotton, Emma Wright will be playing with a full band, which includes some of the area’s best musicians: John Hume on keyboards, Rob Elder on guitar, Jaret Koop on bass, and Mike Weir on drums.
As usual the concerts are free and you are being asked to bring a contribution for the food bank, along with a camp chair. “There are some picnic tables there on site but it’s suggested that you bring a camp chair,” says Scerri. “They are more comfortable and it guarantees you a seat wherever you want to put it.”
The shows start at 7 p.m., giving you the chance to catch dinner at one of the restaurants across the street or you can “call in for an order and go and pick it up between sets”.
Scerri is asking local artisans to be on hand so that “people will be able to come in to the area there and look around and talk to these artists and then the music will start around seven o’clock with the young musicians opening. They’ll do maybe a half hour, forty minute set and then the headline band will start just before eight o’clock and play until ten.”
Again this year, it is the support of local sponsors that makes the Summer Concert Series possible.
“The BIA is again our key sponsor along with the Meaford Culture Foundation and the Municipality of Meaford. The Rotary has come on board as a sponsor this year and Long and McQuade always helps us with PA. Bill at Valu-mart and Dave at New Orleans feed our musicians and our sound guys, and Peak FM and Bayshore Broadcasting work with us too to get the word out. I’m working with RTO7 as well to do some social media advertising with us this year.”
Through this community effort, we can look forward to four more summer Friday nights of great live music to ring through the streets of downtown Meaford.