While hibernating for the winter, Garner’s downtown summer concert series received a makeover.
The Downtown Sounds: Music on the Lawn will feature a more condensed schedule starting Thursday, May 8, along with an emphasis on popular cover bands that can rock crowds with a variety of familiar tunes.
In addition, last year’s addition of Art off Main will continue, and a new tradition will begin: a different food truck will be present at each show along with last year’s hot dog vendor.
The free series, formerly dubbed Music off Main, gets rolling tomorrow at 6 p.m. on the Garner Performing Arts Center Lawn with Soul Play, a Durham-based band. The seven-piece group’s set list ranges from classic party music, funk, disco, beach and latest hits, among others genres.
Garner Revitalization Association executive director John Hodges, who puts together the series, said the band came highly recommended and fits the “fun cover bands” theme Downtown Sounds will feature this year. Last year the series focused on local bands with some form of Garner-area ties.
“Some people liked the local ties to the music and we liked supporting local music. But some of the people there said, ‘Yeah this is great, but we miss the bands that could play everything, songs that we know,’” Hodges said.
The new schedule was likewise designed to battle what had turned into smaller crowds last year than in previous years. The series had always had a break in July and been spread out over several months on either side of that period.
This year there will be four shows in the next seven-plus weeks. Party band 40 East will perform May 29, Garner-based dance band The Central Park Band has the stage June 12, and Spare Change closes the series out June 26.
Hodges hoped the condensed schedule would keep the event in people’s mind and also miss the frequent vacations many take later in the summer, not to mention the start of school.
The food truck idea hitches onto the mobile vendors’ growing popularity, and Thursday the Mac-Ur-Roni food truck will be offering its fare. Hodges said if it became popular enough more trucks could be added at future shows, though one is currently scheduled for each.
The name, meanwhile, changed largely because “Music off Main” was always sort of a placeholder when the series moved from Main Street (and was called Music on Main) to the lawn next to the GPAC.
“We’re trying to get people to understand that GPAC is in what we consider downtown,” Hodges said of the billing.
Blankets and chairs are allowed; coolers and pets are not.