Coinciding the arrival of warm weather, the free summer concert season is starting in Shasta and Siskiyou counties.
The music started last night, June 8, as Mosquito Serenade opened its 30th season in Anderson River Park. The series continues at 7 p.m. on most Wednesday nights through August 10, with the traditional July 3 detour to the Shasta District Fairgrounds for Anderson Explodes.
Among the highlights on this year’s schedule are Jason D. Williams, a flashy Memphis piano player who wowed a gigantic Mosquito Serenade crowd a few years ago and who returns on July 13, and Vicci Martinez, a recent American Idol finalist with a huge voice, who is scheduled for August 3.
MarketFest commences its 16th year tonight, June 9, at Library Park in downtown Redding, and runs from 5 to 8:30 p.m. every Thursday through August 11. I’ll get to some MarketFest changes in a moment, but first let me highlight the opening night band. Hot Club Sandwich is a “hot jazz swing band” from Seattle that is making a stop while en route to the San Francisco Djangofest. The Sandwich plays gypsy jazz with a sense of humor, and I predict they’ll have people dancing all over the park.
A few other acts on the MarketFest lineup that get my attention include Shasta College’s Peter Berkow, a serious classical musician who is playing with legendary folk and bluegrass sideman Joe Craven on July 21, and Palookaville, which is a reunion of musicians who played with the late Slam Buckra. Majical, perhaps the most popular band ever to play MarketFest, returns to the Carnegie Stage on July 28.
Friday night concerts begin this week in Siskiyou County and Shasta Lake. Sponsored by Scott Valley Bank, the series to the north starts at 6:30 p.m. at Hoy Park in Lake Shastina with zydeco band Gatorbeat. The series then moves to Miner Street Park in Yreka for Friday night shows through the end of July (with the exception of July 15). The series concludes on September 4 with the day-long Blackberry Music Festival in Mount Shasta City Park.
Shasta Lake’s Friday Night in the Park series runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m. through August 12 and provides a heavy dose of favorite regional talent. Uptown, a well-honed classic rock and funk band that has been around Redding more than 20 years, gets the party started this Friday.
Although all four series offer free concerts in a park setting, all four have a slightly different vibe. Picnics and BYOB (no glass) are typically the order for the Mosquito Serenade and the Scott Valley Bank series. MarketFest has a more urban feel and always offers a nice selection of food, craft beers and wine. The Shasta Lake series falls in between.
All right, about those MarketFest changes. The biggest is that Placer Street will not be closed to motor vehicles during the event, and the farmers’ market will not return. Organizers at Viva Downtown Redding “moved the footprint into the park” because of new regulations on street closures, and because they do not want traffic tie-ups to harm downtown businesses, Executive Director John Truitt explained.
When MarketFest began closing Placer Street between Railroad Avenue and California Street back in the late 1990s, downtown outside of MarketFest was fairly dead after 5 p.m. Nowadays, there are numerous restaurants, nightclubs and bars in the area, and Viva Downtown doesn’t want to hinder access, Truitt noted.
“The mission of Viva Downtown is to get action in downtown Redding. Viva Downtown isn’t just interested in the free concert series,” Truitt said.
Fair enough, although I worry about conflicts between music-grooving pedestrians and motorists hurrying home on Placer Street. I’m also going to miss the farmers’ market. Truitt said growers didn’t want to move into the park proper, and I can’t blame them, as the park can get very congested.
MarketFest is also going with an early calendar this year, which better matches the school calendar and takes advantage of June’s typically more moderate weather, Truitt said. No more late-August concerts when the kids are supposed to be hitting the books.
There’s no doubt that MarketFest has evolved a great deal. In the early years, the place was packed by 4:30 to 5 p.m., as people came straight from the office, no matter how high the mercury. Crowds would start to thin by about 7. More recently, the crowd grows as the evening wears on, especially if the band is good and people in the park call and text their friends, Truitt observed.
Today’s A La Carte Menu:
Do you believe in magic? … Local author Sheila Heuer is scheduled to sign her new children’s book, “Cowboy the Magic Horse,” from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. this Friday, June 10, at the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area Visitor Center, on the corner of J.F. Kennedy Memorial Drive and Highway 299. The first in a planned series, the book celebrates the relationship that an ill girl develops with her loyal horse. Book illustrator Jacki Goedert is also scheduled to be on hand, and the book’s primary character just might trot past the gathering.
Cannelloni for a cause … Mary’s Pizza Shack in Anderson will be donating 20% of proceeds this Sunday, June 12, to aid Tiffany Senter, a local 18-year-old with cystic fibrosis who is need of a double lung transplant. Present a flyer (they’ll be around) or mention Tiffany’s name to the fine people at Mary’s, and they’ll be sure this young lady’s fund gets 20 cents of every dollar you spend on Sunday.
Racing and remembering … Gary Patterson and Dave Bradway Jr. were two of the best and most popular sprint car drivers Northern California has ever produced. Tragically, both men lost their lives piloting sprint cars – Patterson in 1983 at Calistoga Speedway, and Bradway in 1987 at Skagit Speedway in Washington. Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico will honor both racers this Friday night with the combined Tribute to Gary Patterson and Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial. (The Bradway race was rained out of its original, May 7 date.) The event features the King of the West sprint car series on the quarter-mile clay oval. I expect to see at least 30 winged sprint cars in competition.
Paul Shigley is a freelance journalist based in Western Shasta County, CA, and will not be jamming with Hot Club Sandwich. He may be reached at email@example.com.
A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment.