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SummerFest 2007 kicks off concert series with local talent

Kelley Bolduc of Hot Like Fire Reminder Publications submitted photo
By Katelyn Gendron-List

Staff Writer

AGAWAM The annual SummerFest, a two-month-long free festival of diverse music for people of all ages, will kick off its concert series on July 11, at 7 p.m., at the Veteran's Green, and will continue every Wednesday night thereafter until Aug. 15.

"Our main goal is to bring a variety of different groups to expose the community to different types of music," Patty Souder, chairperson of the 2007 Agawam SummerFest, and member of the Agawam Cultural Council said. "We have reggae, big band, country, pop and rock this year as we are trying to appeal to a large demographic."

Souder went on to state that this is a family event, that's purpose is to bring people out of their homes and together for some quality entertainment.

"I know for me personally that it's all about family and we've dragged my kids down the vortex of SummerFest and they love it," Souder said.

But the members of the Souder family are not the only ones who get the maximum enjoyment out of SummerFest. Richard Cohen, mayor of Agawam, stated that he always attends this cultural event.

"Any cultural activities that the community can offer that draws people together as a family is a wonderful opportunity," Cohen said. "I try to attend as many concerts as I can because events such as this make a community such a wonderful place to live."

Cohen went on to describe the atmosphere at SummerFest as one of excitement, fun and entertainment, as people join together in the spirit of quality entertainment. The Green is filled with people picnicking, the Lions Club selling popcorn, the Agawam Cultural Council running a raffle, children playing catch, and parents spending time with their children.

When SummerFest 2007 begins on July 11, the concert series will be kicked off with a night of reggae and Soca music, as Kelley Bolduc returns to her hometown of Agawam with her band Hot Like Fire.

"It's extra special to play in Agawam because it's my hometown," Bolduc said. "I expect it to be a fun night and we want to get people dancing."

Bolduc went on to state that she hopes to see alumni and old band leaders from her days as a trumpet player in the marching band, wind ensemble, all-state band and district band at Agawam High School. After graduating from Agawam High School in 1986, Bolduc went on to Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she was first exposed to reggae music.

"I met a guy from Barbados at college and attended a show where he was playing, and I won the raffle they were having for a trip to Barbados," Bolduc said. "I went for their Crop Over, their carnival season and my friend arranged for me to play trumpet with his band while I was there. They liked me so much that they flew me there to play for the next two years."

Bolduc went on to state that after graduating from college she went to Trinidad for about a year to live and play music.

"It's being the white girl with the dreadlocks who plays trumpet, and that plays it well, that's such a novelty," Bolduc said of her experiences in Trinidad. "There are not a lot of female musicians over there."

But despite Bolduc's appearance she has been able to perform at countless venues, and successfully expose people to a different kind of music for the past 18 years with her band Hot Like Fire.

"A lot of times people don't realize that this music is something that they like," Bolduc said. "There's a stereotype that it's a slow music and it's not at all. This music is really not as foreign as people think."

The group that will follow up Hot Like Fire will be The Little Big Band, a night of big band music on July 18. The country band Cottonwood is set to perform on the Green the following week on July 25.

"Our sound has been compared to a "rocked-up" Alabama," John Corbett, lead singer of Cottonwood said. "We take country music and put more of a rock edge onto it."

Corbett also stated that the band takes modern country, as well as including some of their own songs from their three albums in order to mix up their concert sets.

"Our crowd ranges from two to 92 and everybody is having fun," Corbett said. "We go back to SummerFest because we feel that if it wasn't fun before we're not going back."

As SummerFest moves into August the country stars from Nashville, Tennessee, Eric Church and Megan Mullins will be performing on the Green. There will be a special bonus concert on Aug. 5, when The Young Ambassadors Brass Band of Great Britain perform. The concert series will follow with the Celtic rock band Enter the Haggis and special guest The Guggenheim Grotto on Aug. 8.

"When I got the promotion kit from Enter the Haggis my 9-year-old son put their live CD into his CD player and later I came to find him with his eyes shut head banging," Souder said. "What other kid in the neighborhood is being exposed to Celtic rock?"

Souder also stated that she was overjoyed by her son's enthusiasm for the music, and while she might not have thought to buy a Celtic rock CD, her son thinks that it's the coolest music around.

"As a mom I try to think of this festival as their only exposure to different types of music," Souder added. "I want to get different types of art out there to the kids. When are you going to see your 9-year-old head banging to Enter the Haggis? That is so cool."

SummerFest 2007 will conclude with A Ray of Elvis on Aug. 15.

All those wishing to attend any night of the concert series should show up by 6 p.m., as the expected attendance is between 1,000 and 4,000 people, according to Souder.

For more information contact Agawam Parks and Recreation at 821-0514.