Editorial – Summer concerts return May 26

Published 4:45 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2023

New year, new stage. The lineup is set for the 2023 Downtown Smithfield Summer Concert Series, which has been entertaining residents and visitors for decades.

As the ribbon is cut later this month on the spacious new gazebo stage, courtesy of the Town of Smithfield, it’s important to remember that it replaces one built 30 years ago as a labor of love by then-Smithfield Times owners John and Anne Edwards with the fully donated labor of several area contractors. The Edwardses, who purchased the materials, envisioned a permanent public space, and boy has it delivered, not just with summer concerts but for other community traditions such as the annual Halloween Costume Contest and Christmas Tree Lighting.

The stage’s signature event will remain the Summer Concert Series, which runs from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. Managed by the Isle of Wight Arts League for the past decade or so, the Friday night concerts have endured because of the generosity of many, including Judge Robert B. Edwards and his wife, Vern, faithful patrons of the local arts whose family foundation has been a stalwart financial supporter.

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Since John Edwards’ retirement from newspaper publishing a few years back, the Arts League’s Elaine Dairo has more than capably filled his large shoes in booking the performers who entertain concert-goers. Dairo really outdid herself this year, as you’ll appreciate when reviewing the full lineup below. For the second straight year, the concerts will begin at 7 p.m., allowing senior citizens and families with young children to make their bedtimes. As always, admission is free. Just bring a lawn chair or a blanket. 

Here’s the lineup:

May 26, Peninsula blues legend Bobby BlackHat

June 2, reggae band Cultivated Mind

June 9, The Jammers Band performing rock, R&B, country and pop

June 16, Pirates Night for kids

June 23, York River Band performing 1960s rock, pop and symphony marches 

June 30, Tidewater Concert Band performing patriotic tunes

July 7, gospel singer Slater Joel Johnson 

July 14, Pasture #3 performing Americana and grass roots tunes

July 21, The Tomcats performing jazz and Americana music 

July 28, Christian group Higher Ground 

Aug. 4, bluegrass band Chisman Creek 

Aug. 11, U.S. Fleet Forces Command military combo

Aug. 18, Forte jazz band 

Aug. 25, Smithfield Little Theatre Variety Show 

Sept. 1, Griffin Lane performing country classics 

A bonus show this year is planned for Thursday, Sept. 7, at The Smithfield Center. Stay tuned for details.