Family concert series displays unique talent

By Lori O'Brien, Correspondent

WEST SPRINGFIELD A host of unique venues and talented entertainers always make the Family Concert Series popular with area residents, according to Domenic G. Longo, director of the town's Park and Recreation Department.

"As a public park and recreation department we are responsible to offer a wide variety of leisure time programs to the public," said Longo during an interview with Reminder Publications. "The arts and music are an integral part of offering a well-rounded recreation program to the public we serve."

For 44 years, the Park and Recreation Department has offered the annual concert series, and Longo noted that the venues used including the Storrowton Gazebo, the Town Common and Landmark at Monastery Heights, are "great," adding, "the entertainers are superb and best of all they are free."

Longo added that the Park and Recreation Department also tries to bring in new talent to the concert series each year.

As the July 4th holiday fast approaches, the "Fabulous Family Fourth of July" celebration promises to be one of the highlights of the season with concerts, children's contests and the annual West Springfield Chapter of UNICO chicken barbecue all on the Town Common. The West Side Dance Center kicks off the festivities at 11 a.m. with award-winning dancers and choreographers spinning tales of fun and mystery through dance to a theme of "fairytales and legends." In addition, full chicken dinners will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., however, tickets should be purchased in advance by calling (413) 896-0560. Stan Svec, Steve Svec, Dennis Picard and Bob Deslisle, collectively known as "Ne'er Do Wells," will perform tunes that were commonly heard around New England town commons from 1650 to 1885, beginning at noon. Their specialty, "camp music," is a style in which the musician allows the tunes and lyrics to come through by interpreting that music as it would have been done by "the common man" of the period, without the frills of over instrumentation. The Pioneer Valley Concert Band will provide a pops-style concert from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Also in July, the following events are planned:

Family music of the past and present will be presented by disc jockey Brian Fowler on July 6 at 7:30 p.m. at West Springfield High School's Clark Field. Following Fowler's performance, a screening of "Happy Feet" begins at 9 at Clark Field. Visitors are reminded to bring their lawn chairs or blankets for the outdoor screening. A full concession service will be provided.

Several members of the Dan Kane Singers will perform July 12 at 7 p.m. at the Storrowton Gazebo on the Eastern States Exposition grounds. Singers will present Broadway tunes and songs of yesterday and today.

Joey Milardo and the Musical Cavaliers will perform a musical offering of polkas, obereks and waltzes starting at 7 p.m. on July 19 at the Storrowton Gazebo.

The Top Shelf Trio will present a concert of oldies, classic rock, modern rock and country music on July 26 at 7 p.m. at Landmark at Monastery Heights.

August offerings include:

Ray Guillemette Jr., also known as A Ray of Elvis, will perform Aug. 2 at 7 p.m. on the Town Common, with the style and energy that was Elvis.

The Young Ambassadors Brass Band from Great Britain presents its light entertainment music to audiences on Aug. 5 at 2 p.m. at Landmark at Monastery Heights.

Richie Mitnick and Friends will perform their best-loved standards, as well as show tunes and oldies, on Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. at Landmark at Monastery Heights.

The Heritage Pops Orchestra will play a wide variety of big band music on Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. at Landmark at Monastery Heights.

The Dave Colucci 'Cruisin' with the Crooner's Show features the music of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tom Jones, Bobby Darin, Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond and others, on Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. at Landmark at Monastery Heights.

The Ethel Lee Ensemble closes out the summer season of concerts with a program of oldies on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. at Landmark at Monastery Heights.

In addition to the concerts, the Park and Recreation Department will host a Town Carnival & Art Show on Aug. 7 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the West Springfield Teen Center. Town children are invited to play the carnival games free to win points toward carnival prizes, pony rides, popcorn or cotton candy.

Additionally, picnics and family outings are always a perfect way to spend an afternoon and Mittineague Park has three pavilion areas available. Permits to use one of the pavilion areas are only available to town residents.

As with all events, in the event of inclement weather, call (413) 781-3020 for an update on venue or visit www.west-springfield.ma.us.