By Stephanie Choate
Get your sunglasses and get ready to go on “a mission from God.”
New York City-based Blues Brother tribute act Hats and Shades will kick off the Maple Tree Place summer concert series on June 20, the first of 10 bands set to play every Thursday through Aug. 22 on the Maple Tree Place green, from 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
“It’s a high-energy, crowd-interactive tribute to the Blues Brothers,” said Gene DiNapoli, who takes on the role of Jake Blues. “We do all the hit songs from their career and we add in crowd favorites like ‘Shout’ and ‘Mustang Sally.’ It’s a very kid-friendly show.”
“We’re pretty excited about that one,” said Karen Sidney-Plummer, Maple Tree Place general manager.
DiNapoli said he and his partner, Bob McArthur—aka Elwood Blues—are looking forward to their first public gig in Vermont.
“It’s a great way to start the summer,” he said.
The concert begins at 6:30 p.m. Top Hat Entertainment will entertain the crowd and give away prizes from 6-6:30 p.m., and concert attendees can browse among a variety of vendors.
Returning favorites this season include British Mania, a Beatles tribute band that drew thousands of concert-goers last year, scheduled for July 4. Local rock group SturCrazie will play Aug. 15 and a Michael Jackson tribute—a record-setting act—will cap the series on Aug. 22. The series features new bands this year, including a Motown group on June 27 and Garth Brooks tribute on July 25.
“When I put the bands together I really try to do wide spread of entertainment,” Sidney-Plummer said. “We have a blend of Vermont bands as well as out-of-state bands, offering music for a lot of different tastes…we’ve got some excellent bands coming this year.”
This year marks the sixth season of the free concerts. Sidney-Plummer said the concert series has really taken off in the past two years, drawing ever-increasing crowds.
“I have been getting calls since early April from people asking for the schedule,” she said.
Members of the Williston Town Band have also been busy, preparing to begin their season with a July 3 concert at the town’s ice cream social.
President Barb Russ said the band has new music and members this year. Nearly 45 local music lovers—from middle school students to those considerably older—play in band.
“It’s a real tradition and it’s something we all look forward to in the summer,” Russ said. “It’s really nice to be a part of the community.”
Every Wednesday night this summer, the town band will be in the bandstand, either performing or practicing. Concerts are set for July 3, July 17, July 31, Aug. 14 and Aug. 21, all from 7 – 8:30 p.m., with rehearsals on the Wednesdays in between. On Aug. 9, the town band will play at a Vermont Lake Monsters game at Centennial Field.
Both concert series will benefit from the same thing.
“Let’s hope for sunshine throughout the whole summer,” Sidney-Plummer said.
For a full list of Maple Tree Place concerts, visit www.shopmtp.com. For more information about the town band, visit www.willistontownband.org.