By Barb Pert Templeton
Providing a nice evening in the park with live entertainment from a variety of musicians is the goal Judy Weaver has when she plans the Summer Concert Series in Memphis each year. Welcoming dozens of people to the Ed Musial Park on Wednesday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. in June, July and August accomplishes the task nicely.
Weaver is marking her third year as the director of the Memphis Parks and Recreation Department and said she contacts bands to perform for the summer concert series in several different ways.
“My husband knows a lot of musicians because he plays guitar so sometimes people contact me and ask to play or I try to mix it up each year and find different types of music,” Weaver said.
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Right now, she’s looking for a Blue Grass Band to add to the August concert schedule but unfortunately, she doesn’t have a big budget to work with to hire the groups to come to town.
“The problem is we have a very limited budget, being a small town equals a small budget,” Weaver said. “I’m just happy the bands we get are willing to accept my small offering.”
For example, a band that includes six or seven members can hardly make enough money for gas performing in Memphis but ‘they love to come to play’ so they show up anyway, she said.
Having local sponsors makes the concerts possible and this year Memphis has: B & D Auto, Choice One Bank, Jason Sopha of Keller Williams Real Estate, the Doghouse Tavern, the Memphis Lions Club, Memphis Drugs, Dr. Mark Wolanin DDS, The American Legion and the American Legion Women’s’ Auxiliary and our newest sponsor Country Smokehouse along with an anonymous donation.
The park, which sits along the Belle River, is a great setting for outdoor concerts and the city welcomes a nice mid-week crowd throughout the summer. People bring their lawn chairs and cooler and dogs are allowed on a leash.
Regular weekly concessions aren’t offered but Weaver said the Memphis Lions Club picks one Wednesday to serve hot dogs and pop while local realtor and city councilman Jason Sopha will provide free pizza to concert goers at the August 11 event.
“Last year we had popcorn one day and I am not opposed to a food truck, but I like it being a totally free event, where people can just come out and enjoy the music,” Weaver said.
In the event of inclement weather there is a plan in place and in fact it was utilized for the first time in several years on June 30 due to rain. Weaver said if it rains or threatens rain, the band will play under the Lions Pavilion on Pratt Road.
“It’s a lot of fun and there’s plenty of room for more people to come out and enjoy,” Weaver said.
The lineup for this year’s summer concert series in the park in Memphis is as follows:
July 7 – Dynasty
July 14 – Joe Dehenau Country Rock/Fiddle
July 21 – Butterhair, Eclectic
July 28 – Bluetop Blues, Blues
August 4 – Gopher Broke, blues/rock n roll
August 11 – Billy Hamilton and the Lowriders