by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
Elvis and the Beatles were the biggest draws this year in the The Riverfront Concert Series which concluded its 13-week run Thursday evening.
Rubber Soul, the Beattes tribute band, gave the crowd a hard day’s night opening the season June 2, and Chris Olson, the Elvis impersonator, was a hunka burning love on Aug. 4. Olson was also top draw last year.
Those two along with Deuces Wild (dueling pianos), 32 Below (country rock) and Whitesidewalls (50’s and 60’s) drew over 1,000 fans to the downtown riverfront stage.
“Riverfront Concert Series was an overall solid year for attendance, especially considering the Minnesota weather we have,” said coordinator Stephanie Albin of Parks and Recreation.
Rubber Soul and Olson were the only acts invited back for a second straight year (actually Rubber Soul was rained out in 2010). Albin said normally they try to avoid scheduling an act two straight years. Whitesidewalls was here in 2009.
In the fifth year of the concert series, the other acts this year were Lehto and Wright (Celtic American folk), Northern Lights Variety Band (concert, honor guard), Tim Patrick and the Blue Eyes Band (Sinatra, great American standards), Barbary Coast (dixie, ragtime), School of Rock (teens singing today’s music), Shane Martin Band (country rock), Highland Paddy (celtic folk).and the finale, Arch Allies, which performed Thursday evening, after the deadline for this story.
“For the most part, we are able to get the performers we want,” said Albin. “The hardest part is getting a variety of bands, staying within the budget, and mixing up the performers or bands that bring large crowds compared to the bands who bring the smaller crowds.”
Shane Martin and Highland
Paddy are local bands. The other local band that has performed previously was Elk River German Band.
“We find out there are more and more local performers and bands,” said Albin. “It is very had to get all the local bands scheduled among all the other requests we receive.”
Park and Rec also schedules Tuesday night concerts once a month called “Local Showcase” to get more local acts involved.
Bank of Elk River sponsors the weekly free concerts which have become a strong local tradition.
“The Bank of Elk River support truly brings the concert series to a much higher level that brings the community together,” said Albin. “With that, I thank the Bank, their staff, and the Parks and Recreation staff, for making it happen.”
Albin said she’s been amazed at the attendance growth over five years and how much positive energy to downtown it generates.