On a cool evening last week, dozens of people came to downtown Smithfield for live music and dancing.
Last Tuesday was the start of the annual Jammin’ on Johnston summer concert series. On the third Tuesday of every month, people can come out for free music. The shows last from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., and the series runs through September.
“It’s the best place to be in Smithfield tonight,” Sarah Edwards, interim director of the Downtown Smithfield Development Corp., said before the concert started.
Her group organizes the concerts. “It’s a free band and a fun time that’s really designed for people of all ages,” Edwards said. “It’s a really great time to just come out and have some fun.”
People sat in lawn chairs, listened to The Central Park Band and watched as people came up to dance, including two young boys break dancing. The concerts are held at the intersection of Third and Johnston streets, closing part of the street near the Bistro on Third. People sat outside the restaurant and sipped beer and ate dinner while listening to the band.
Last year, the concert series was held on Friday nights. Edwards said she moved it to the middle of the week so that it didn’t compete with other events in the area.
The bands usually play Top 40 hits and sometimes beach music. About 200 to 300 people come to each concert, Edwards said.
Here is the lineup for the rest of the summer:
• June 17 – The Holiday Band.
• July 15 – The Main Event Band.
• Aug. 19 – Backyard Groove.
• Sept. 16 – Coco Loco Party Band.
Bistro on Third is open during each concert, selling food and drinks, including alcoholic beverages. People should bring lawn chairs if they want a place to sit. Edwards encourages people to eat dinner somewhere downtown beforehand.
Lisa Abbott, 44, relaxed in a lawn chair last Tuesday with her mom, Alice Nichols, 73. The Princeton residents come every year and like to bring friends and family along. “It’s a nice family event, and it’s free,” Abbott said.
Mother and daughter don’t have to commit to buying a ticket, which Abbott likes because it saves money in case something comes up and they have to miss a night.
Plus, “it’s nice to support the community,” Abbott said. She likes eating downtown and knowing that small businesses like the Howell Theatre are getting more exposure.
Nichols especially likes the music. “I love outdoor bands, and they’ve all been pretty good,” she said. Abbott agreed. “You get to see really nice bands that usually you would have to pay a premium to see,” she said.
Edwards said the concert series costs about $5,000 each year. “The purpose is to attract people downtown,” she said. “People are always looking for something to do, and we’d love to have them here in downtown Smithfield.”
If rains cancels a concert, the downtown group will try to reschedule for a later date, Edwards said.