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Music is on the menu

Downtown Peterborough: Depot Square to host summer concert series

  • Hunt Smith and Alison Aldritch, both of Nelson, will play traditional contra dance music in Depot Park on July 26. They are part of a free summer concert series being organized by business owners in Depot Square.
  • The New Grey Cats -- Max Munnemaker on sax,  Carey Bluhn on violin and Gordon Peery on keyboards -- open the concert series in Depot Park on July 12<br/>
  • Guitarist Eddy Troxler will perform in Depot Park on Aug. 24.

George Neal, the owner of 12 Pine restaurant and marketplace in Depot Square, says something has been missing in recent summers.

“When I came here in 2001, the Chamber of Commerce had been sponsoring a summer music series here in the park,” Neal said last week. “It just kind of stopped, and I thought this is the year to get it going again.”

So starting on July 12, Neal will be bringing in performers to Depot Park for six consecutive Fridays, arranging for them to play on the grass beside the Contoocook River from 6 p.m. to about 7:30 p.m. The concerts will be free.

“It will give people a chance to pack a picnic lunch, grab the grandkids, come on over and enjoy the summer,” Neal said.

The concerts will often feature musicians who are not well known in the area.

“We want to offer something a little different, to expand our reach beyond the usual,” Neal said. “We’ve got a fair amount of jazz, some blues, some traditional folk. You’ll get to see some first-class musicians.”

The series opens on July 12 with the New Grey Cats, a trio featuring Carey Bluhn on violin, Max Munnemaker on sax and Gordon Peery on keyboards. “I’d call their music jazz-infused contra dance,” Neal said. “They do some funky stuff.”

On July 9, the Scott Mullet Group will play. “Scott’s a well-known saxophonist on the big band circuit,” Neal said. “He’s toured with Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Mel Torme and played with Aretha Franklin and Lou Rawls.”

Hunt Smith and Alison Aldritch from Nelson will present a more traditional show on July 26. Playing fiddle, guitar, accordion, keyboard, ukulele, mandolin and other instruments, they’ll do traditional contra dance tunes with novelty songs added to the mix.

Neal is in the process of lining up performers for a Celtic music session on Aug. 2.

On Aug. 9, The Paul Klemperer New Hampshire Ensemble will perform. “Paul’s from Austin, Texas, and does great jazz and blues,” Neal said. “He’s played with the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Marcia Ball. He’s up here for the summer, and he’s be putting together a local band for this show.”

Guitarist Eddy Troxler, the owner of the Peterborough Music Company, will play jazz on Aug. 16, and singer-songwriter Tad Dreis, who loosely categorizes his music as folk-pop, will play on Aug. 24.

Neal said concertgoers should bring lawn chairs, blankets and food. And he even has plans in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.

“If we need a rain alternative, we’ll bring the bands into 12 Pine,” he said. “We can put up a tent outside on the patio along School Street, and we can accommodate 70 or 75 people. There’s no reason to cancel.”

Neal said he’ll be underwriting the costs of the performers and other Depot Square businesspeople — including Kathy Forrest of Bowerbird and Cy Gregg and Pelagia Vincent of Waterhouse restaurant — are helping with other expenses.

“We’re hoping to stretch our money as far as we can,” Neal said. “We just feel good about doing this. Hopefully it will be popular, and we’ll be able to keep doing it in subsequent summers.

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