Summer Concert Series marches into new era

Published 6:31 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2022

John Edwards’ much-deserved retreat from professional and civic life takes another big step this year with the passing of the baton for the Summer Concert Series.

Say a prayer for those of us who have accepted it.

Succeeding John as owner and publisher of The Smithfield Times in 2019 was in many ways easy, which is not to say I’ll ever do it as well as the legend himself. I’ve published newspapers for decades and handled every associated task except for running the printing press, which John had the good sense to outsource. I often tell Better Half that I could put out a newspaper from a hospital bed as long as the internet connection was good.

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But organizing a Summer Concert Series is a whole ’nother animal, as they say. Volunteer extraordinaire Elaine Dairo, donning her Isle of Wight Arts League hat in this case, gets the lion’s share of the credit for the 2022 concert series, which kicks off May 27 and runs through Labor Day weekend with performances every Friday. And John, true to his word, has been an email or phone call away when we hit a snag. And we’ve hit a few.

I promised John in 2019 that the Summer Concert Series would not die under my watch. That vow at the time required some blind confidence in the Arts League, under whose auspices the series has resided in recent years even as John continued to do all of the work. Having since joined IWAL’s board, I’m confident that the summer concerts are in good hands for many years to come.

A big change this year will be a 7 p.m. start time, an hour earlier than usual. John had been contemplating the change for several years to accommodate families with children, whose 9 o’clock bedtime often arrived during the concert’s final song. As I get older, my own bedtime creeps closer to 9, so no complaints here with the change.

Dairo, who has proved to be a masterful herder of cats, assembled an outstanding lineup for the Summer Concert Series’ first full season since 2019. The 2020 season was canceled entirely by COVID-19, and last year’s series was abridged as community life cautiously returned to some sense of normalcy.

We’ll publish it several times in coming weeks, but here’s the 2022 lineup:

  • May 27, bluesman Bobby BlackHat
  • June 3, Gospel Night with Slater Joel
  • June 10, Kim Person and Lana Puckett, acoustic Americana
  • June 17, Flatland Bluegrass Band
  • June 24, Forte` jazz band
  • July 1, York River Concert Band performing patriotic tunes
  • July 8, Summer Jones Band, 1960s and ’70s classics
  • July 15, Pirate Night children’s show
  • July 22, Motown sounds featuring KSoul
  • July 29, Angela Easterling, upbeat Americana
  • Aug. 5, Zack Salsberry Trio, classic rock and blues
  • Aug. 12, Williamsburg Classic Swing orchestra featuring Smithfield’s own Dru Stowe
  • Aug. 19, Fleet Forces Command military combo
  • Aug. 26, Smithfield Little Theatre variety show
  • Sept. 2, Griffin Lane performing classic country

Come see us Friday, May 27, on “Times Square.”


Steve Stewart is publisher of The Smithfield Times. His email address is