TORONTO — From country to oldies, rock ‘n roll and swing to rhythm and blues, the Toronto Coalition for Revitalization’s summer concert series will feature a variety of musicians from 7-9 p.m. every Wednesday from Wednesday to August 31.
Area residents are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket to the Gazebo Commons area of the city at North Third and Market streets to catch the latest free performances, which are supported by many businesses and organizations.
Jon Greiner, who books artists for the volunteer coalition, said the response and turnout for last year’s series was great, which is a challenge for this year.
“I thought to myself, how am I going to be in the lead last year, so I thought I could at least reflect that,” he said, noting that he intended to offer many of the same musical styles represented in previous programming.
Concerts scheduled for this year are: The Honkytonk Sweethearts and The Remainders, a classic rock band, Wednesday; the rock and soul sound of Pocket Change on July 13; standards and other music delivered by Roz and Lynn and 1950s, 60s and 70s sounds from Reflections on July 20; country and other music by the Ron Retzer Trio on August 3; the mix of country and rock by Chelsea Householder and local dance group Twice as Nice on August 10; and country and rock ‘n roll from 40 Plus on August 17.
Greiner noted that musical imitators were popular last year, so Bob Morelli returns as Dean Martin, this year paired with Dave Salera as Frank Sinatra, on July 27, while Steve Dorsey and Kurt Nova will appear again. as Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley, respectively, on August 24.
Capping off the streak on August 31 is Jimmy Lee Hook, a Toronto native who pursued a music career in Cincinnati and elsewhere. Often appearing with guitarist Sam Hudnell, the singer-keyboardist performs music from a variety of pop favorites as well as some of his own songs.
In the event of rain, concerts will be moved to the adjacent First Presbyterian Church in Toronto.
Greiner and Komar thanked church officials for allowing the building to be used over the years.
“I think we’ve had 13 concerts in the church over the years,” said Greiner.
To show their gratitude, the coalition arranged for a new railing to be installed along the steps leading to the entrance of the church.
The two also thanked area businesses and organizations for sponsoring the shows.
They include: B&W Complete Auto Repair, Cattrell Cos. Inc., Clarke Funeral Home, Freshwater Cedar One Realty, JE Foster Funeral Homes, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, Iggy’s Pizza and Pasta, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Wargo Home Improvement, Main Street Bank, Margaret’s Cafe, Repairs Plus , Ridge Machine & Welding, State Farm Insurance agent Toni Moreland, TIMET, the Toronto Apothecary, Toronto Beautification Committee, Toronto Kiwanis Club, US Bank, Valley Converting and White Glove Supply.
Greiner said, “There are 21 sponsors this year, the most we have had. George did a terrific job getting them.
Over the past four years, the concerts have also been supported by nearly $5,000 in grants from the Ohio Arts Council, and Greiner plans to apply for another this year.
Sponsors are recognized on a banner produced by Signs Ltd. at a reduced price to the band and hung from a wooden frame built by the late Richard Bailey, who had been an avid concert goer.
The Toronto Beautification Committee is responsible for the flowers and American flags used to decorate the gazebo and its grounds.
The concerts also received a boost from local youth, including members of the Toronto Junior High School Junior Honor Society, who helped attendees with their chairs; and members of Cub Scout Pack 41, who pass around a donation can for concerts and sell small snacks there.