Summer concerts return to much enthusiasm

  • Team Jaffrey brought back its Concerts on the Common this year after canceling in 2002 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photo

  • Town concerts have returned to Hancock this summer after being canceled last year due to the COVID-1 pandemic. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/21/2021 4:27:14 PM

The sound of music has once again filled the air of town commons and bandstands this year as summer concerts return after what equated to a mostly silent region in 2020.

After being forced to cancel last year’s Concerts on the Common series, Team Jaffrey Executive Director Stephanie Porter wanted to provide more opportunities for everyone to experience live outdoor music in 2021.

Instead of just putting on concerts for the month of July as they have in previous years, Porter added one in June and another four in August to this summer’s schedule for a total of nine free shows.

“It’s a great place to have a concert,” Porter said. “So we figured why not give it a try (extending the season).”

Now only if Mother Nature would cooperate. So far, Porter said, there’s only been one Wednesday nigh concert that could be held outside, and the rest have been forced inside to the Jaffrey Meetinghouse.

“I’m happy we have a place we can go when we can’t be outside,” Porter said. “I’d hate to obviously cancel, so I’m grateful and thankful for the Meetinghouse. I wish more people would come.”

The one outdoor show 66 & Main had in the neighborhood of 60 to 70 people attend, while the indoor shows see anywhere from 20 to 30.

“But it does deter people and we miss the young families and kids,” Porter said about the indoor venue.

The hope is that the rest of the Wednesday evening concerts will feature nice weather and the wonderful atmosphere the Jaffrey town common provides.

“When you’re driving through town and see an outdoor concert you’re most likely going to stop,” Porter said

But after a year with nothing, it’s just nice to be able to offer a way for people to get together, Porter said.

“We want to bring people out, to downtown and back together again,” she said.

Whether it’s a result of the pandemic or pure coincidence, Porter said the support this year has been incredible.

“We’ve gotten more donations than we have in a couple years and I think it’s because people missed what we do. When you have to skip a year, people realize what they’re missing,” she said.

Sheep Dip is next on the schedule on July 28 with The Kingsnakes after that on Aug. 4. Speed Bumps is set to play Aug. 11, followed by Keene Cheshiremen (Aug. 18), and The Big Bedford Band (Aug. 25).

Kathy Anderson estimates she’s been going to the Hancock Summer Concert Series for at least 20 years. This is officially her third year in charge of the Thursday night series, although her second amounted to no shows as the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But as the series celebrates 25 years in 2021, Anderson said it seems that people really missed the opportunity to gather around the Hancock bandstand for some live music.

“I assume people are really excited to be outside with other people enjoying music,” she said, citing that an estimated 75 people showed up last week, after the first show was moved inside the Hancock Meetinghouse due to weather.

She said attendance really depends on who’s performing, as some of the bands return quite often and “have a draw.”

“I try to do some local and some consistency between years,” Anderson said.

She said the atmosphere is always festive as “there’s always a few people that get up and dance,” and that coupled with the way the evening sunlight hits the bandstand is something that was truly missed.

“It’s just so lovely to get outside and listen to some music,” Anderson said. “Last year was a long, lonesome summer.”

The Hancock concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. and tonight’s concert features Hancock’s own Sarah Bauhan & The Elmwood Station Band. Easy Street takes to the bandstand July 29, followed by Tattoo (Aug. 5) and The Kingsnakes (Aug. 12).

Stephanie Babb, music coordinator for Music on the Common in Greenfield, said this is the 10th year of the series and to mark the milestone, the number of concerts this summer was increased to match the longevity.

Like the concerts in Jaffrey, Babb said most of the concerts up to this point have been moved inside the Meetinghouse. But it hasn’t seemed to deter the interest.

“There’s definitely been an increase of people attending, even when they’re inside,” Babb said. “The town wanted it, the people missed it.”

She said the goal is to keep the bands as local as possible.

“If we have people from Greenfield that have bands, we try to get them in,” Babb said. “Keeping it local is definitely important.”

At the Tuesday night shows, which start at 6:30 p.m., Babb said the Greenfield Fire Department Auxiliary sells food and drinks and next week the Friends of the Library will be serving dessert to raise money.

The shows run through the second to last Tuesday in August with the Nelson Town Band next up on July 27. They will be followed by Brickyard Blues on Aug. 3, Three for the Taking (Aug. 10), Dragonfly (Aug. 17) and David Quick (Aug. 24).

Antrim in the Evening also returned this year at the town bandstand on Wednesdays at 6 p.m., with three shows remaining. The Kingsnakes play next week with Amy Conley (Aug. 4) and Off the Cuff (Aug. 11) to follow.

The annual Friday night concerts in Peterborough’s Depot Park continued last year under strict guidelines and are now in the midst of its 9th season. Soul City will perform this Friday, while Peterborough’s duo of Ciaran Nagle and Tara Novak, who make up Ishna, are set for a July 30 concert.

The Paul Klemperer Band returns on Aug. 6 and to close out the season, The Tom Foolery Band is scheduled for Aug. 13.


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