Honesdale’s Central Park had a quiet summer in 2020 – way too quiet, in fact.
Normally, the Park would have been filled every Monday and Thursday evening with some of the best live music in the area, courtesy of the Wayne County Creative Arts Council (WCCAC). The coronavirus pandemic, though, scuttled the entire season – a first in the more than 50-year history of the organization.
Fortunately, our time of isolation is coming to an end, and the Festival of Summer Events is back in business with some old favorites and exciting new offerings. As always, there’s something in the season for nearly every musical taste.
“I’m so looking forward to continuing this Wayne County tradition of music in the park and seeing everyone again,” says Mitzi Kielar, Project Manager for the WCCAC.
The season dawns on a bright note on Thursday, June 17th, with the band Lighten Up! This well-named group features Randy and Rose Light, Chip Forelli, and friends playing an uplifting mix of classic rock, blues, swing, country, pop, bluegrass and roots oriented music. (Find more information at https://www.facebook.com/Lightenuppa.)
Summer officially begins on June 20, so it’s only appropriate to celebrate on Monday June 21 with a nice, bubbling-hot gumbo of blues and soul music with a New Orleans flavor from the ever-popular Barn Cats. “Funky, soulful and unique” indeed! (http://thembarncats.com/)
The Little Big Band Group (https://thelittlebigbandgroup.com/), led by Bruce Dedrick, brings some swinging arrangements of classic and more contemporary tunes to share on Thursday, June 24.
Back in the day, the Poets were the go-to party and wedding band for NEPA. The band stopped performing a couple of years ago, but on Monday, June 28, the Luongo Brothers, Pat and Nick, two of the original Poets, will carry the torch forward. (https://www.facebook.com/Luongo-Brothers-Band-174625109843093/) They will share the evening with award-winning Elvis tribute artist, Gino Mercuri. (https://www.facebook.com/GinoMercuriETA/)
Honesdale’s Independence Day Celebration will be on Friday, July 2nd, and will feature jazz and other great American music from Doug Smith’s Band. (http://www.lexingtonentertainment.org/home.html) Fireworks at dusk will be sponsored by the Greater Honesdale Partnership, and there will be vendors selling food and novelties as well. In case of inclement weather, the rain date will be Saturday, July 3rd, and The Fabulous 45’s will perform.
The Fabulous 45’s, featuring members of local oldies band Flashback, are scheduled to perform Monday, July 5. In the event that we have to use the rain date, Doug Smith’s Band will perform on July 5 instead.
Local homegrown (and still growing!) family band, The Pharm, will be onstage on Thursday, July 8th, sharing harmonies and classic songs.
July 12th will be a very special concert featuring the Farm Hands, a miulti-award-winning gospel bluegrass band from Nashville TN, led by world-class dobro player Tim Graves. (https://farmhandsmusic.com/)
On Thursday, July 15th, perennial favorites The Irish Balladeers will return to share their special mix of classic Irish songs and stories of Irish and Irish-American history.
Monday, July 19th will feature extraordinary vocalist Ekat Pereyra and Friends, and Thursday, July 22 will bring back the stupendous high-energy musicianship of the Gypsy Jazz Quintet.
Contemporary blues legend Clarence Spady (https://clarencespadyband.com/) will make his debut on the Fasshauer Stage on July 26th.
Finally, the expected biggest crowd of the season will gather to hear The Old Time Fiddlers on Thursday July 29th.
“Having a year off has made us much more appreciative of live music,” said local musician, teacher, and music store owner Dave Figura, who books the acts and runs the sound board during performances. “We’re very excited about the new groups, and can’t wait to see everyone at the park again!”
The CDC guidelines will be followed with masks required and spacing of family groups in the Park.
All concerts (other than the Independence Day Celebration) will begin at 7:30. In case of inclement weather, concerts may be moved to other locations. There is no admission charge to the Summer Festival events, but free-will donations are gratefully accepted. Refreshments will be available for purchase from Tubby’s Food,, but attendees can also bring their own food. (No alcohol or smoking, please.) Bring a blanket or chair for seating. For more information, contact Project Manager Mitzi Kielar at 570-785-3674, or find WCCAC online via Facebook or at www.honesdaleparkevents.org.