Wander down to the Alice Clover Pinney Park tonight and you’ll find folks settled into lawn chairs or sprawled on blankets, enjoying the sounds of the 102nd Army Band. They’ll run into a neighbor they haven’t seen for a while, catch up with friends and keep a watchful eye as little ones dance and run in the grass. It’s the start of the Summer Concert Series, cosponsored by the Farmington Recreation Department and the Unionville Museum, and it’s a tradition.
Recreation Supervisor Priscilla Peale wasn’t sure how long the department’s been hosting the series but it predates the gazebo, which became the concert site when it was built in 1987. Residents have been coming ever since.
“I’ve had people tell me how much they look forward to the series,” Peale said. “It’s what makes people feel connected to their community and provides a setting for spending time with their families, neighbors and to just enjoy what I call the Norman Rockwell setting.”
The Summer Concert Series is composed of six concerts – this year has one bonus concert because people don’t want to see it end, Peale said – all scheduled for Thursday nights 7 – 8:30 p.m. at the gazebo. In case of rain, the concerts are held at the Community and Senior Center.
The performances bring back favorites Amy Gallatin & Still Waters and The Skid Marks. Others, including Orange Crush, The Sounds of Frank Sinatra and the 102nd Army Band, are new. Genres stretch across decades with swing, Motown, country, ’60s rock and roll and, with the addition of Orange Crush, ’80s hits.
The Unionville Lions Club also sells refreshments at the concerts to help fund the group’s work in the community.
“We have a lot of kids that come down and are running around, we have the people who come from The Gables in their van, so it’s many generations. It’s a lovely setting, a fun evening and a nice community event,” Peale said.
The summer schedule in the words of the Recreation Department is below:
THE 102ND ARMY BAND - Thursday, June 23
The 102d Army Band, the musical representative of the CT National Guard, has performed in Asia, Europe and in the U.S. The Band has entertained dignitaries such as the president of the United States, the queen of England and recently performed at the inauguration of the new governor. The band has approximately 40 musicians and performs as a concert band, marching band, large jazz band, jazz combo, rock band, brass quintet and a Dixieland band. The large jazz ensemble, and the concert band will play concert music and marches, and patriotic selections.
EIGHT TO THE BAR - Thursday, June 30
Drawing its musical influences from American roots music; swing, boogie woogie, rhythm & blues, soul, Motown, - Eight to the Bar is known for its outstanding instrumentalists and sophisticated musical and vocal arrangements, highlighted by female vocals. With the support of independently produced albums and videos, Eight to the Bar has cultivated a large, enthusiastic following that has put them in clubs from Disneyland to Disney World as well as Europe and the Caribbean. Their rigorous performing schedulehas included opening spots for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Manhattan Transfer, Neil Young, and Ray Charles.
AMY GALLATIN & STILLWATERS - Thursday, July 14
Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters featuring Roger Williams on guitar have been performing country, folk, and western swing worldwide. The musical influence is diverse, ranging from old and contemporary cowboy tunes to great country artists like Emily Lou Harris, Merle Haggard, The Everly Brothers, and a dash of blues influence thrown in from Katie Wilson and B.B. King. They have performed in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Europe representing the United Sates as the featured performer at the European World of Bluegrass Convention.
THE SKID MARKS - Thursday, July 21
Do you remember drive-ins, poodle skirts, bobby socks, hula-hoops, and 45rpm records? Do you remember when you could actually understand the lyrics of a song as well as dance to the beat? If you do, you're in the right place for a Rock 'n' Roll Dance Party! The Skid Marks have been entertaining festivals and audiences across the U.S. with all those wonderful hits from the 1950's and early 60's. They bring freshness to the tunes you remember from your youth or maybe, if you're real young, have just "discovered." They captivate their audiences and transport them back to simpler times.
ORANGE CRUSH - Thursday, July 28
The MUSIC of the 80’s has always been about “FUN” and the cover band Orange Crush has always been about the 80’s. Since forming in 1996, the band has performed thousands of shows at hundreds of colleges, nightclubs, weddings, corporate events, private parties, charity events, and concerts on the green all over the country. You simply won't believe how many songs Orange Crush knows from that classic decade, the 80’s.
THE SOUNDS OF FRANK SINATRA - Thursday, August 4
A six member musical and vocal group with 25 years of professional experience. Take a nostalgic walk down memory lane listening to all of your favorites of Frank Sinatra. “The Summer Wind”, “The Way You Look Tonight”, “Fly Me To The Moon”, and of course “New York, New York” are some of the Sinatra songs you’ll hear during this enthusiastic program.