Four outdoor concert series will fill the air around Augusta with a little night music this summer.
At 7 p.m. on Thursday nights through July, the North Augusta Cultural Arts Council will present its Music in the Park series at Maude Edenfield Park on Brookside Drive.
“The community enjoys it. One of the primary aims of our organization is to provide arts to the community,” said Ken Smith, the council’s executive director.
The season finalé on July 26, will be at Grace United Methodist Church’s Wesley Center.
Other concert series include Aiken’s Hopelands Summer Concert Series, Augusta’s Evenings in the Appleby Garden and the Candlelight Jazz Concert Series.
Except for the Candlelight Jazz Concert Series, most of the outdoor concerts feature a variety ofmusical styles.
“We have jazz, big bands, African-American acoustic guitar, blues and jazz, clogging, ballet, a little of everything,” Lisa Hall, the recreation supervisor with the city of Aiken, said about the Hopelands Summer Concert Series. “We try to make it very diverse.”
The Hopelands Series kicked off earlier this month and will run through August. In the event of rain, the 7 p.m. Monday night concerts are moved to the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center on Whiskey Road.
The Hopelands series averages about 500 people, but some concerts draw more.
“The Parris Island Marine Band will draw over 1,000 people,” she said.
The band is scheduled to play July 2. To alleviate traffic and parking issues, there will be a shuttle bus from the Weeks Center to Hopelands Gardens on that night, she said.
Crowds are also drawn to the Evenings in the Appleby Garden series at the Appleby Branch Library on Walton Way at Johns Road. The concerts are on the back lawn.
“Our average attendance is about 400,” said Sherryl James, the community services and outreach librarian for the East Central Georgia Regional Library.
In its 58th season, Evenings in the Appleby Garden is the longest-running series, and it also has the shortest season with only six concerts. It begins on Tuesday, May 22, and runs through Tuesday, June 26. Concerts begin at 8 p.m.
The Appleby series features jazz, a brass band and contemporary fusion. The series culminates with a performance by Fort Gordon’s U.S. Army Signal Corps Band.
James said that doesn’t necessarily mean the final concert will feature patriotic music; sometimes, one of the band’s ensembles will perform rather than the concert band. The Signal Corps Band also has a jazz band and a rock band within its ranks.
The Hopelands, Appleby and North Augusta concerts all have free admission.
The Candlelight Jazz Concert Series is one of the area’s youngest, entering its 10th season this year, coordinator Karen Gordon said.
“Each year we add something new to the event,” she said in an e-mail. “In 2012, we added five concerts in the spring – a preview of sorts, and many of the summer concerts have two performances instead of one.”
Candlelight Jazz features a variety of jazz artists at 8 p.m. Sundays through August at Eighth Street at Riverwalk. The preview season began in March to lead up to the regular season, which began this month with three consecutive concerts featuring local students. The May 27 concert features London Arrington’s Dirty Jazz. Thomson, Ga., native Chris Crenshaw, who is currently touring with Jazz at Lincoln Center, will perform on June 3.
The cost is $6. Tickets are free for children 13 and younger.
Though the music is the focus of the series, organizers believe the venues play a huge part inits success.
“Riverwalk Augusta is beautiful, and the addition of the permanent stage at Eighth Street makes for an ideal setting for a concert,” according to Gordon.
Outdoor concert patrons are encouraged to bring blankets and picnic baskets. Many sites provide a perfect setting for parents to bring along small children as well.
“We have a playground right there. The kids can play, and the parents can be there with their kids and still hear the music,” said Smith.