Music series on the road this summer
By EILEEN SCHULTE
CLEARWATER -- The city of Clearwater can't bring the people to Coachman Park this summer for its annual free concert series, so it's bringing the music to the people.
Construction at the Coachman Park venue prompted the first Summer Concert Series Neighborhood Tour, and if you live in Clearwater, the tour will be coming soon to a park or recreation facility near you.
It's an entertainment experiment city officials hope will cure the summertime blues.
"It's something new," said Terry Schmidt, Clearwater Parks and Recreation Department events producer. "We're trying to move it to different areas of the city."
The traveling show, sponsored by the city and the St. Petersburg Times, was kicked off last Friday with 1970s disco night at Clearwater High School. For the most part, it was poorly attended primarily because people aren't accustomed to attending concerts anywhere but in Coachman Park, and also because the skies opened up while Disco Inferno was burning it up.
It was the "first time it's rained on a Friday in a long time," Schmidt said.
Last year, almost every Friday night concert was rained out, but on the previous 13 years, rain was sporadic, he said.
Braving foul weather, a 45-foot portable stage on wheels -- with lights, speakers and a generator -- called the Showmaster will travel to the Ross Norton Complex, Countryside Recreation Center, Morningside Recreation Complex and Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex bringing music to the masses.
After the Memorial Causeway Bridge-related construction is completed in July, there will be a show by Joe Bruno's Dixieland Hotdogs back at home base, Coachman Park.
In an effort to appeal to all tastes and to encourage dancing, musical genres will run the gamut from topical pop to red-hot Latin tunes.
Bands include Free Time (local jazz performer Fred Johnson's band), La Machin' (contemporary music), The Connectors (classic rock) and Supernatural (a Santana tribute band).
All shows are free.
Schmidt said "people like it" when the city brings events to specific pockets of the city.
"It makes it a little more intimate," he said. "People can come out and bring their lawn chairs and picnics."
Plus, he said, some people who may not always have transportation to Coachman Park will be able to enjoy the shows.
In the 15 years of the series, anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 people attended each show in Coachman Park, Schmidt said.
If you go
The six-date Summer Concert Series Neighborhood Tour is now in full swing. Each concert is free and starts at 7 p.m. Coolers, blankets, lawn chairs and picnics are allowed. Alcohol is prohibited. Here is the schedule:
Tonight, Free Time, local entertainer Fred Johnson's band, will perform jazz at the Ross Norton Complex, 1426 S Greenwood Ave.
On June 28, La Machin' will play contemporary music at the Countryside Recreation Center, 2640 Sabal Springs Drive.
On July 12, Joe Bruno's Dixieland Hotdogs will play Dixieland tunes at Coachman Park, 301 Drew St.
On July 19, The Connectors will perform classic rock at Morningside Recreational Complex, 2400 Harn Blvd.
On July 26, Supernatural will play Santana songs at Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex, 2450 Drew St.
If it looks like rain and you are unsure whether the show will go on, call (727) 562-4813 after 4 p.m.
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