Music returns to South Park
By Angie Landsverk
South Park’s Shadow Lake will be the backdrop for four evening concerts this summer.
Summer Nights Concerts will return to Waupaca’s park for the second summer.
The free concerts will be at the pavilion on Wednesdays, June 21, July 19, Aug. 2 and Aug. 16.
“We’re doing four because they went well (last year). We got a lot of positive feedback. Somebody said, ‘You have to do these every week,’” said Steve Laedtke, the Waupaca Community Arts Board’s (WCAB) music and talent coordinator.
The board will host the concerts, which will all begin at 7 p.m., in Upper South Park.
Each concert will end at 9:30 p.m. and include a 30-minute intermission.
Donations to the Waupaca Area Food Pantry are encouraged, Laedtke said.
Some seating is available in the park.
Those who attend may bring chairs and blankets.
Alcoholic carry-ins are not allowed in the city’s parks.
WCAB, which is made up of volunteers, will sell beer, soda and water.
There will also be a 50/50 raffle.
“The proceeds from the beverage sales and 50/50 raffle will benefit the WCAB,” Laedtke said.
Food will be available from Johnny Salsa.
Local businesses, a foundation and an individual are sponsoring the concerts, covering the costs of the four bands.
Laedtke said the board decided to add a concert this year due to the positive feedback it received from last year’s sponsors, as well as from those who attended the concerts.
Three concerts took place last year, including one downtown.
This year, all the concerts will be at South Park.
The first concert, on June 21, will feature Irene’s Garden.
The group is from the Amherst area.
Known for its locally-sourced dance music, it plays original songs.
Genre-defying music flows from the seven-member ensemble.
Pocket Kings will play on July 19.
The band is made up of Greg McMonagle (vocals), Kelvin Kaspar (guitar), Gary Smith (keys), Mike Malone (drums) and Matt Vanderlinden (bass).
Collectively, they have played throughout the Fox Valley and beyond.
The band is known for performing interesting, funky, danceable songs.
Cathy Grier and the All Star Troublemakers will play on Aug. 2.
Grier, a singer/songwriter from Sturgeon Bay, believes in the power of music.
Her almost four-decade long career began in biker bars in Connecticut before moving to New York City’s Greenwich Village.
Socially conscious in her songwriting and stage presence, Grier is known for captivating her audiences with her clear, powerful voice.
Janet Planet, John Harmon and Friends will perform on Aug. 16.
Planet says, “I often recall a quote by Della Reese. When asked about being a jazz vocalist she said, ‘I like to be called a working singer.’ That sentiment has resonated with me throughout my 25-year career.”
Planet has a reverence for jazz singing.
Her early influences were Joni Mitchell, Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt and “anything else my five siblings were listening to at the time,” she says.
Harmon began playing piano at a young age with his mother, who played mostly by ear.
His exposure to jazz came early, too, thanks in part to his father’s collection of jazz records, which included recordings of Duke Ellington, Teddy Wilson and Art Tatum.
Harmon graduated from Lawrence University with a degree in music composition and then attended the first summer session of the Lenox School of Jazz.
For several years, Harmon worked as a pianist and arranger, based in New York City. Harmon did graduate work in composition at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
He returned to Lawrence University in 1971 and founded a jazz-studies program there. In 1974, Harmon co-founded a nine-piece band called Matrix. The group went on to record five albums over the next seven years.
Following the success of Matrix, Harmon continued to concentrate on performing, teaching occasionally and composing full time.
A widely commissioned composer, Harmon has written music for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, “The Orchestra” of Los Angeles, the Fox Valley Symphony and the Santa Fe Chamber Orchestra.
The WCAB will also include family art projects in this year’s Summer Nights Concerts.
All the family art projects are free and will start at 6 p.m., in the park.
On June 21 – the first day of summer – the project will be Solstice lanterns.
Sponsored by The Paint Store, with artist Becca Eckhardt, those who attend will paint Chinese lanterns.
On July 19, families will learn how to create their own books they they may use as a journal, to write notes in or for writing their own stories.
The art project on Aug. 2 will be painted washer pendants. Large metal washers will be painted with nail polish and strung on a cord to make jewelry.
On Aug. 16, painted lanterns will return, with the idea to make enough lanterns to decorate the big tent for the Friday, Aug. 18 Arts on the Square street dance. in downtown Waupaca.
Laedtke said the mission of the WCAB is community building through the arts.
Of this year’s Summer Nights Concerts, he said, “This is just part of doing that. This is a great way to do it, to bring a variety of music to the public.”