Music News & Reviews

A century of songs, decade by decade

The Central Coast Celebration Chorus.
The Central Coast Celebration Chorus.

This summer, celebrate a century of music.

Inspired by Arroyo Grande’s Centennial Celebration, the Village Summer Concert Series will cover 100 years of great tunes, from turn-of-the- century blues to 1950s rock ’n’ roll to contemporary jazz. Each concert will represent a different era and a different musical genre.

Organizer Curtis Reinhardt said he hopes the free outdoor concert series will “help bring back some memories” for music lovers.

“I think they’re going to learn something, too,” he said. “People will say, ‘I’ve listened to that song for 20 years and I never knew it was 100 years old.’ ”

The fun starts June 12 with a concert by Al B. Blue, Valerie Johnson and Karen Tyler honoring the history of the blues.

On June 26, the San Luis Obispo County Band, backed by a couple of female vocalists, will perform John Philip Sousa marches and other period pieces from the 1920s.

The Village Band and the Central Coast Celebration Chorus will team up for a Fourth of July concert celebrating the swinging sounds of the 1930s, while a July 9 show calls attention to the birth of the American bluegrass scene in the 1940s.

Centennial Day festivities on July 10 include a 1950s sock hop with music by the Mighty Croon Dogs. After listening to the afternoon concert, concertgoers can enjoy a giant block party featuring six bands and 50 street performers, a parade and fireworks.

“We could have 15,000 to 20,000 people in the Village,” Reinhardt said. “We just want to spread them up and down the street and have a big party."

Merrell Fankhauser and Friends perform 1960s surf rock on July 24, followed by 1970s-style folk artists Richard Green and the Sherry Austin Band on Aug. 7.

To represent the 1980s, an era known for heavy metal, hip-hop and hard rock, Reinhardt went with a more conventional choice: the Great American Songbook revival. Human Nation, Steve McAndrew and Judy Philbin will perform songs made popular by the likes of Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra.

“Our series is accessible and of interest to everyone, but we tend to get lots of seniors and families with little kids,” said Reinhardt, who’s still searching for a country band to play hits from the 1990s on Sept. 4. “I think a punk band would have been a little bit excessive.”

The series wraps up Sept. 18 with a concert honoring contemporary songwriters. Jazz-folk vocalist Inga Swearingen will take the stage with bluesman Guy Budd and the Gypsy Souls.

According to Reinhardt, each concert will incorporate dance performances, period costumes and classic cars in an attempt to bring Arroyo Grande history to life.

“It’s all in keeping with the centennial,” he said.

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