Posted: June 7, 2012 Sounds of Summer Concert Series Starts June 7th!
Concert series continues to grow, impact downtown
By Rob Hanson Leader-Telegram staff
Although it's only in its seventh season, the Sounds Like Summer Concert series in Phoenix Park has become a summer tradition for many.
And with growing awareness in the community as well as a brand new lineup, organizers say the crowds will only get bigger this year.
Sounds Like Summer kicks off at 6 p.m. June 7, with performances by The Frenettes, QuinnElizabeth and Sarah Krueger.
Tyler Griggs of Volume One, who is in charge of booking the series, said the focus this year was to find local groups who haven't performed on the labyrinth in summers past. While that means attendees won't be seeing some local favorites like The Jim Pullman Band, Irie Sol and The Evergreen Grass Band - who have been staples of the series in the past - it opens doors for a greater variety of local musicians.
"It's strictly in the interest of creating more slots available in the 13-week season, and to get more performers and opportunity that we haven't allocated time to before," Griggs said.
Among the new acts this year will be singer-songwriter Jeff White, The Frenettes and Howard Luedtke & Blue Max.
Other newcomers to the bill are part of nights with a sort of theme, such as a "Barbershop battle" - a play on rap battles with a handful of barbershop quartets - as well as an entire evening devoted to orchestral music by the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra. More out-of-the ordinary performers include Chippewa Valley Pipes & Drums and The Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra.
The season's main attraction, however, more than likely will be the Minneapolis-based folk and rock duo Peter Wolf Crier, who have received some positive national press for their first two albums and feature drummer Brian Moen, also of the local band Laarks.
As always, the shows are free and open to the public.
"I think it's safe to say that the Sounds Like Summer concert series is western Wisconsin's best place to listen to live, local music," Griggs said. "It's outdoors in a beautiful setting. It's very accessible and it's free."
In past summers, audiences pushing 1,000 people have showed up on a weekly basis for the concerts.
Downtown Eau Claire Incorporated communications coordinator Salina Heller said the event hasn't just shaped how the community spends its Thursday nights, but instead has changed the way people think about downtown - which is evident by the recent proposals for downtown redevelopment.
"We are just beginning to realize what the opportunities are for the Phoenix Park area," Heller said. "We've got the farmers market and the summer concert series and more festivals and it's just going to grow and grow."