June 05--SANFORD -- The city is expanding on a longtime tradition this summer, offering free concerts in Depot Park every week, instead of just once a month, through mid-September.
The concert series kicks off tonight, when the Tuesday Night Music Club takes the stage at 7 p.m. The group, which plays a down-home brand of country and Americana, is composed of locals Jim Powers, Robert Gilleland, Robert Watson and David Spivey.
The local flavor is a key aspect of the concert series, which aims to promote local bands as well as drive traffic to downtown businesses.
Downtown Sanford Inc. Director David Montgomery said while these businesses don't operate stalls at Depot Park during the musical events, many have reported increased patronage around previous concerts.
The bigger crowds in recent years have helped local stores do better business and have helped local musicians get their name out, he said -- now more so than ever, since there will be weekly concerts this year due to last year's heavy interest.
"It was great," Montgomery said of last summer's attendance. "It grows every year."
As for businesses, he said, Yarborough's Homemade Ice Cream does particularly well, as does La Dolce Vita, which offers a special sandwich-and-drink "park pack" before shows.
Other businesses, like Kathy's Java Express, plan to keep longer hours on concert nights. Kathy's, for example, will be open until 7:30 tonight selling food and drinks. Deanna Addison, who works there at her grandmother's restaurant, said they often stay open past the regular evening closing time for concerts, movies and anything else going on after the sun goes down.
"Whenever they have anything in the park, we have a lot of people come in beforehand," she said.
The Central Carolina Jaycees, for example, just ended a weekly series of kids' movies at the park last weekend. And with the weekly concerts, downtown businesses might have their hands full. Downtown Sanford has only announced the lineup for June so far, and Montgomery said the goal is to have a broad range of genres. In June alone, he said, there will be country, rock, bluegrass and jazz.
After tonight's performance by the Tuesday Night Music Club, the other June concerts are:
-- Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra, June 12.
-- FOG Band, June 19.
-- Tommy Edwards and Carolina Lightnin' with Keith Thomas, June 26.
All the concerts are free and will last from 7 p.m. to around 8:30-9:15 p.m., Montgomery said. People can bring food, drink, and a lawn chair or blanket.
Other events are planned, too, although not free like the Depot Park concerts. Temple Theatre has put an increased focus on concerts and comedy shows in recent months, and the next big show is later this month.
Cary blues rockers Blue Sky Crying will perform at 7 p.m.June 17. Admission is $10. Then on June 24, award-winning beach music band The Embers will perform at 7:30 p.m., with opener Eric Smallwood, a Fayetteville musician who has opened for the likes of Shooter Jennings in the past.
Temple has other concerts scheduled each Tuesday night through Aug. 5. Visit www.templeshows.com for more information and to buy tickets.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT: "Function at the Junction" summer concert series with the Tuesday Night Music Club, featuring Jim Powers, Robert Gilleland, David Spivey, Robert Watson and Chad Spivey.
WHEN: Tonight (Thursday) from 7-9 p.m. at Depot Park in downtown Sanford. Concerts will continue weekly through mid-September.
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