Concerts had a lot of help this year

Published 7:26 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Short Rows Header The Summer Concert Series’ 30th season has ended, and now that it’s in the past tense I want to publicly thank the people who made it possible. I had the misfortune of breaking my ankle in June and at about the same time, some personal issues developed that required Anne and me to spend a good deal of time in Richmond several days a week throughout the summer. As a result, neither Anne nor I could focus on the Friday concerts as we normally do and the potential existed for a very difficult season. Thanks to Jim and Elaine Abicht and Elaine Dairo, the season progressed without a hitch. They took charge of hosting musicians every weekend in July and through the early part of August. While Anne and I were able to attend several concerts during that period, we didn’t have to lift a finger thanks to these three people. Then, thanks to an someone who made an anonymous donation for the 30th summer series, we were able to book the Tams, a ’60s beach and rock group from Atlanta. Even with funds in hand, a project like that involves a lot of work. Out-of-town performers require extra attention including, at a minimum, dinner for the performers and crew and designated dressing rooms. The Smithfield Little Theatre volunteered use of its building to host the Tams, who drove to Smithfield from Atlanta just ahead of Tropical Storm Hermine. Judy Winslow, Jim and Elaine Abicht and SLT board member Kathy Strozak set up tables and chairs, served dinner and generally hosted the band in a manner that did Smithfield proud. Former county parks director Alan Nogiec works for the booking company through which the band was engaged, but is also uniquely interested in what happens here. He was super-attentive to what happened during the Tams visit. Smithfield Station, which frequently feeds the military bands that perform here, provided dinners for the Tams and went above and beyond to make the event special. And then, there is The Smithfield Center’s staff. The town has donated the center for these special concerts in order to make them financially feasible, but beyond that, the center staff works hard to make sure that these community events go off without a hitch. This event was no exception. Performers throughout the summer contributed to the 30th season. Clay and Nancy Griffin at one time were series regulars, but haven’t performed for years. To celebrate the 30th season, they pulled together their former band members and Friday played to an estimated 400 people, one of the series’ largest crowds ever. And finally, the concert goers who supported this 30th series were as supportive as ever. The series draws an average of about 200 people per performance and that kind of loyalty contributes mightily to its success. The Summer Concert Series has become an important part of the cultural life of Smithfield and Isle of Wight County and it has been a pleasure for Anne and me to be able to present it for the past three decades. We will continue to be involved for a while, but in the future, the series will require new blood and certainly new ideas in order to continue. We are confident it will have both and will be an important part of summer for years to come.

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