Remember last year when we asked you to vote for Jacksonville in the Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Award contest? Your votes paid off, as the city of Jacksonville was selected as one out of 15 finalists for a $25,000 grant to produce a free and family-friendly concert series in a neglected public space. All finalists were asked to submit a proposal outlining how they plan to use the money if they were chosen as winner.
Main Street Jacksonville was the organization behind the proposal, and they’ve clearly done a great job, as Jacksonville was awarded the $25,000 in matching funds to produce a free concert series in the summer of 2016. As a result, central Illinois will be treated to a series of 10 family-friendly concerts in downtown Jacksonville’s Central Park, at the intersection of North Central Park Street and West Central Park Street. The concerts will run from June 3 through Aug. 6. All concerts, with the exception of the last concert, will be held on Friday nights at 7 p.m. The Saturday, Aug. 6, concert will be at 11 a.m., in conjunction with the annual Art Fair on the Square event and the new Craft Beer Festival.
During the concerts, the public is invited to bring blankets, lawn chairs and a picnic dinner to set up on the open lawn in front of the stage. Various craft vendors and food trucks will also be on site, offering crafts, food, drink and other amenities.
The music series is possible thanks in part to the Mortimer and Mimi Levitt Foundation, a private organization with the goal of transforming neglected public spaces into thriving destinations powered by free, live music. The summer concerts will feature many different genres of music, such as pop, blues, reggae, bluegrass, rock and more.
The series begins on Friday, June 3, with top 10 finalist in “America’s Got Talent,” Benton Blount. The music continues on June 10 when Russian-American pop singer Marina V makes a triumphant return to Jacksonville. David Gerard will play blues on June 10, and Sarah Ross will present country music infused with her special blend of rock, pop, rap, soul and spoken word on June 24.
The fun continues through July and the first week of August with Americana group Radio Birds on July 1, St. Louis-rock band Fivefold performing July 8, and a Christian-rock group by the name of Rapture Ruckus on July 15. The next two shows feature popular reggae group The One Drops, led by Aaron Kamm on July 22 and Angela Perley on July 29. The concerts will conclude on Saturday, Aug. 6, with a special closeout performance by Old Salt Union, a Belleville-based group who plays bluegrass music according to their own set of rules. Formed in 2012, Old Salt Union has accomplished a lot in just four years, including sharing the stage with bluegrass greats such as Del McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush and more.
For more information about the Jacksonville Levitt AMP Music Series and the other 150 Levitt AMP concerts that will take place in public spaces this summer, visit http://levittamp.org. Additional questions can be directed to Jacksonville Main Street event coordinator Kristen Jenkin at 491-0721. –Nan Bulli