Downtown concert series expanded

WESTFIELD – The free downtown concert series is the perfect reason to spend a Thursday night downtown with good music, food and friends. The series is also being expanded this year to three performances, with a range of musical acts to appeal to a wide variety of music lovers.
The series is being sponsored again this year by the Westfield Business Improvement District (BID), Westfield on Weekends (WOW) and the Tavern Restaurant through a grant from the Westfield Cultural Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Westfield Business Improvement District Executive Director Maureen Belliveau said the fourth Summer Sounds Concert Series will be staged for the third year at the Church Street Commons with the audience setting up their lawn chairs in the Reader 1 parking lot.
“Next year we’ll be celebrating it at the new (Park Square) Green,” Belliveau said. “We had hoped to be back on the green this summer but Park Square, while close to being completed, is not quite there. We have to let the grass get established before we can go back without causing damage to the lawns.
“Our temporary home at the Church Street Commons is a fine place to hear good music,” Belliveau said. “It offers acoustics on what we call our temporary ‘urban’ green. People have been surprised by the built-in feature of the acoustical sound” she said.
The season opens with a band known to many Red Sox fans, the Hot Tamales Brass Band, the house band of Fenway Park, appearing on August 9.

The Hot Tamales, which was a favorite marching band in this year’s Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade, have played every pregame show at Red Sox home games since 1999. The band has packed Boston area clubs for years and performed as a Mardi Gras band at theme parties.

“I think people are excited, looking forward to the concerts again,” Belliveau said. “The diversity of the musical acts in the series this year if exciting, kind of mixes it up a little bit.”
The second concert, slated for Aug16, features the Albany-based Celtic folk/rock band Hair of the Door and the series will conclude on Aug. 23 with a performance of Eight to the Bar, which performs a variety of musical styles including swing, boogie, rhythm and blues.
“We have purposefully switched it up this season to herald next summer’s great lineup that will inaugurate Summer Sounds on the Westfield Green,” Bob Plasse of WOW said. “The Hot Tamales are the perfect series opener, known to Red Sox fans for their good time music. They really are crowd pleasers.”
Belliveau said that the the series will have several food vendors, a beer and wine cart from the Tavern, as well as downtown restaurants and take-out food items from nearby shops.
“Stores in the district plan to open prior to the concert with concert specials and surprises available, while pubs and restaurants are the perfect spot to grab an early meal or a late-night snack,” she said. “There will be a lot of fun little things happening throughout the district.
“So set those dates aside, come down with your lawn chairs to enjoy the concerts and spend a Thursday evening in downtown,” Belliveau said.

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