Pandemic doesn’t muffle the music
Summer Concert Series 2021—Bardstown
As summer temperatures climb, music enthusiasts know where to find the coolest bands around: at Bardstown Community Park. Every Friday night at 7 p.m., semi-local, regional and some out-of-state bands take the stage to entertain the crowd at the free Summer Concert Series.
“The Concert Series is an affordable, family friendly evening out,” says Daniel Jeffries, director of Bardstown’s Parks & Recreation and a Nolin RECC consumer-member. “There are different genres scheduled throughout the season to satisfy most everyone’s taste.”
The upcoming lineup for the series, now in its 19th season, includes rock ’n’ roll artists The Vinyl Kings, Wulfe Bros., and Frontier Band; the bluegrass Ida Claire Band; Bardstown-based funk and soul dance band Big Black Cadillac; blues group Da Mudcats; and classic country crooners Wildfire.
Although COVID-19 guidelines are in place, there’s plenty of room to spread out. Guests can bring a blanket or lawn chair, or grab a spot on the tiered, amphitheater-style seating to enjoy a show.
“Before the concert, you can sample the history and industry that makes Bardstown the ‘Most beautiful small town in America’ and ‘The Bourbon Capital of the World,’” says Jeffries. “You can fill up a day trip with activities and top it off with a relaxing concert.”
Israel David performs with Hotel California—A Salute to the Eagles during the kickoff of Bardstown’s 2019 Live at the Park Summer Concert Series. Photo: Kacie Goode/The Kentucky Standard
Summer Nights Concert Series—Franklin
For over 20 years, concertgoers have flocked to downtown Franklin’s historic square to enjoy the Summer Nights Concert Series. There, attendees enjoy the musical talents of home-grown and regional entertainers, while enjoying an evening under the stars in the open-air concert venue, complete with an outdoor bandstand on the courthouse lawn.
Summer Nights showcases a variety of genres, featuring everything from Southern rock and country to R&B groups. This season kicks off with The Brandon Harris Band and Bueler’s Day Off in June. Jimmy Church and Andy and the Rockers are scheduled to perform in July. Rounding out the series in August are The Sidewinders, with a season-finale performance by Tyrone Dunn & Kin-Foke.
The free Friday night event gives families a place to hang out, while boosting local tourism. Franklin-Simpson Renaissance Executive Director Kim Roberts says, “We try to draw attention to our downtown merchants and our downtown restaurants.” On-site food trucks offer even more menu options.
Franklin’s Summer Nights Concert Series is the perfect way to wrap up the work week and welcome the weekend. “It’s always shady,” says Roberts, a Warren RECC consumer-member. “Bring your own chair and sit and enjoy the beauty of our downtown.”
Levitt AMP Music Series
The Levitt AMP Music Series is enriching lives by bringing free, live music to small and medium-sized communities across the country. This matching grant program by the Levitt Foundation is currently spreading the joy of music to three Kentucky towns—Berea, Middlesboro and Whitesburg.
Berea has hosted the Levitt AMP Music Series since 2014 and offers 10 shows each season. Ali Blair, Levitt AMP Berea Music Series project lead, says introducing folks to different cultures and genres is a grant requirement. “We have a very diverse lineup. We have everything from Afro-funk to bluegrass to rock music to Celtic music— all kinds of different genres,” she says.
Because of COVID-19, this year’s roster will focus on Kentucky performers. “We’re supporting local musicians and keeping money going to those artists who are definitely hurting as a result of the pandemic,” explains Blair. “We’re excited to showcase a lot of different cultures and genres of music right here in Kentucky.”
Whitesburg is set to kick off its third Levitt AMP Music Series season this summer with 10 concerts, running from mid-July through September. Past entertainers have included Grammy Award winners and nominees, members of various halls of fame, and even the country of Jordan’s musical ambassador.
“We bring the best musicians in the world to Whitesburg,” says Steve Ruth, Levitt AMP Whitesburg Music Series coordinator. “The whole idea of Levitt AMP is to try to bring music into your area that people can’t normally see.” This year, however, Ruth expects the lineup to feature American acts.
Should larger gatherings not be possible, both cities have a pandemic back-up plan. Berea’s concerts will be livestreamed, while Whitesburg will offer drive-in concerts, much like a drive-in movie theater. “We did a couple of them last summer to sort of take the place of not being able to do the big series,” says Ruth. “They turned out to be very popular. We had a great turnout.”
Live at the Park Concert Series—Bardstown
After a season without music last summer due to COVID-19, Bardstown’s Live at the Park Concert Series is again bringing a wide range of musical styles to the outdoor amphitheater stage on the grounds of My Old Kentucky Home State Park.
“We hope that by having this, we’ll be part of that re-cranking of the engine of tourism and activity and a little bit of normalcy for Kentucky,” says Johnny Warren, executive artistic director of The Stephen Foster Drama Association.
Though this year’s schedule is still being planned, past popular shows have included country, classic rock and tribute groups like Creedence Revived (an homage to Creedence Clearwater Revival). And another fan favorite, Kentucky-based band The Monarchs, is expected to perform this summer. The group has a long-standing tradition of performing at Live in the Park, entertaining fans with their old-time rock ’n’ roll sound, plus chart-topping hits.
Live at the Park’s venue seats 1,100, so Warren believes it’s large enough to present a show that will keep visitors safe, while also giving them the opportunity to enjoy live music again.
“To experience a Kentucky night outside under the stars with your favorite songs being played is just a fantastic way to end a day visiting Bardstown,” he says.
Friday After 5—Owensboro
One mile of music on the riverfront featuring seven venues of free, live entertainment—that’s what Owensboro’s Friday After 5 summer concert series offers guests. What began in 1997 with four concerts has grown into a 16- week family friendly festival, hosting more than 70,000 visitors each year. The 2021 season marks the event’s 25th anniversary.
“This year’s going to be a very special year,” says Francine Marseille, Friday After 5 executive director. “We’re trying to not only bring in some great, fresh bands, but we do have fresh venues, as well.”
The season kicks off May 21 with performances by Gaslight Boys and Aaron Goodvin, plus Gospel on the River, including Living by Faith, Firm Foundation and Conquerors. The festival runs every Friday through September 2, Labor Day weekend.
New to this year’s series is Christmas in July. “Many people missed Christmas this year, so we’re going to transform the Friday After 5 concert series into a little bit of Christmas,” explains Marseille. The festivities include Santa and Mrs. Claus, holiday decorations, carolers, a boat parade and some Christmas tunes from the bands on stage.
For the first time, Friday After 5 will coincide with Owensboro’s HydroFair, a hydroplane racing event, plus the popular Air Show—both scheduled for August. Marseille says these events will give Friday After 5 guests some unique opportunities, such as a pier meet-and-greet with the boat drivers. For the Air Show, she adds, “We’re working on a flyover for the riverfront.”
Friday After 5’s signature Toast to the Sunset will take place on the riverfront. This season, the backdrop will feature new programmed dancing lights on the downtown Blue Bridge. During Christmas in July, the lights will flash red and green.
Marseille, who also is a COVID-19 compliance officer, notes Friday After 5 is being planned according to guidelines to provide a safe, yet fun environment for families to enjoy the entertainment.
“We really encourage people to come and celebrate with us for our 25th anniversary,” Marseille says.
Can’t wait for Owensboro’s fun, family-friendly Friday After 5 summer concert series to kick off? Then reminisce right now with this video throwback to the 2017 season.
Levitt AMP Berea presents Kaleta & Super Yamba Band.
Levitt AMP Berea presents Ben Sollee.
Levitt AMP Berea presents Cheick Hamala Diabate.
Cue the music. But before heading out to hear your favorite band, be sure to check the concert venue’s website, FB page, or call for the most up-to-date information.
BB&T Concerts in the Park
Circus Square Park—601 State St. (across from SKyPac)
Downtown Frankfort Incorporated “Summer Concert Series” sponsored by WesBanco
Old State Capitol on Broadway St.
Friday After 5
Downtown Owensboro riverfront, stretching from RiverPark Center (101 Daviess St.) to Holiday Inn (701 West 1st St.) on the Riverwalk
FB: Friday After 5
Levitt AMP Berea Music Series
Berea City Park Expansion
400 North Broadway, Berea
Levitt AMP Middlesboro Music Series
2005 Cumberland Ave., Middlesboro
Levitt AMP Whitesburg Music Series
Mountain Heritage Village in downtown Whitesburg
Live at the Park Concert Series
My Old Kentucky Home State Park
411 E. Stephen Foster Ave., Bardstown
(502) 348-5971 or 1-800-626-1563
840 Stanford Rd., Danville
Downtown Paducah on the corner of Broadway St. and 2nd St. (in the gazebo)
Summer Concert Series 2021
Bardstown Community Park
429 East Halstead Ave., Bardstown
1152 Monarch St., Lexington
Summer Nights Concert Series
100 N. Main St., Franklin