This week the topic is “Outdoor Concerts”, yet, I haven’t attended many.
I enjoy music and have seen many performances, (although nowhere near as many as I would like), but nearly all have been indoors.
We have a family history of them, though. We heard that when my grandmother was a young girl, she walked to a neighboring town in Italy to see and hear the US. Marine Corp band with John Philip Sousa playing his marches; she enjoyed them all of her life.
There was an amphitheater in a mountain valley where my mother grew up in NE Pennsylvania. She saw many big name musical acts where everyone danced to the music. The Dorsey Brothers showed up, as did Ozzie Nelson and his band, among others. (One of my aunts, who was a tomboy, slid down the wooden banister leading down to the stage and dance floor; she got a 3-inch sliver that just missed her heart, but I digress. Many years later that aunt’s Italian Radio program helped sponsor some very big-name “Opera Under the Stars” performances in Washington, DC, where she hobnobbed with all sorts of stars and dignitaries.I would have been there in a heartbeat…had I been born!)
My sister got to go to the famous Beatles concert in Shea stadium. (One cousin claims to have been at Woodstock, but I don’t believe him…not that I think it is anything to brag about any way!) My nieces went to see a very young U2 at Red Rocks, and has seen many, many concerts since inside and out.
But my own experiences with outdoor music is light.
When I was in grade school, we had one day of “Play Day”. Sometimes the classes ran races or did gymnastics and the like, but I remember my classes doing things differently. I remember singing with them and demonstrating folk dances,(with music); I remember it quite strongly. We practiced for months with the choreography and songs.
I’m going to consider those as ‘outdoor concerts’!
I have been living in a town that no one knows that they know about: nearly all the world knows the song, “My Old Kentucky Home” and I pass the house that inspired it nearly every day.
Foster never lived in the house, but he and members of his family stayed there throughout the years as it belonged to a cousin of theirs, John Rowan. He was also did business with Stephen’s corner of the family. There is an amphitheater now behind the mansion and every Summer “Stephen Foster, The Musical” , (known locally as just “The Musical”), plays to sell-out crowds…seriously people come in from all over, often by the busloads. I have seen it twice myself.
Locals are used for the choir and extras, but often the principal actors/singers are from all over the country, as are some of the musicians. Although it does show some of Mr. Foster’s often troubled life, the play ends on a high note, (literally!), before his sad death. Few people know that several composers, (John Philip Sousa among them), started the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, [ASCAP] in order to collect their due portion of royalties. Many performers, including the original Christy Minstrels, illegally used Mr. Foster’s works, paying him no cut of the great deal of money they made using his songs, and he died in destitution.
A few years ago they started rotating The Musical with other musicals, and I took my grandson to see a rollicking version of “The Wizard of Oz” the first year they offered it.
It was a great deal of fun, with a great deal of music. They managed to get singer/actors to play the farmhands who looked very much like their counterparts in Oz, (the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Lion), since there was no time for the changes they would have had to manage. The Wicked Witch really rocked it; I had to seek her out and compliment her afterward.
We have some “Classic Rock” stars come through to perform there as well, but I never seem to get there.
The other claim-to-fame this town has is that it is the “Birthplace of Bourbon”, and every year they hold a big Bourbon Festival. I never attend it, except to help with the Boy Scouts, who earn money helping with the clean-up. The outdoor music there is quite good, albeit by local performers. The music there also leans toward Classic Rock, and it should come as no surprise, Country.
I was young, we would go to drive-in movie theaters. Before it got dark and the shows began, there would sometimes be live entertainment on a stage in front of the gigantic movie ‘screen’, which was usually a white-painted cinderblock wall. I don’t remember a great deal about them, only that I found it terribly interesting…but I usually couldn’t wait for the cartoons to start!
The same with some large, Fourth of July firework displays; I remember people singing Elvis songs before it got dark enough to shoot off the skyrockets!
There is Shakespeare in the Park,40-some miles north in Louisville,which we used to attend quite often. Sometimes, before the play, there were strolling minstrels and troubadours, or even “Pipes and Drums”. I truly enjoyed those, but I have not been there in some years.
I’m afraid my outdoor performance attendance is lacking…looks like I had better make an effort to get to some next year!