The grand daddy of Delaware beach music kicked off its 49th year this weekend, while the new kid on the beach block starts year four.
The Rehoboth Beach bandstand turned its seating around a few years ago so the 300-plus who fill the benches, along with the over flow crowd on the streets, can use the ocean as their backdrop.
Corey Groll, program director, says the bandstand has come along way from the marching band music that used to take center stage when it first opened in 1963. He says the goal is to provide a wide spectrum of music. Saturday night was the second of three opening weekend concerts. Vinyl Shockley was the musical group. Drummer Ed Shockley remembers when he wasn’t allowed to play on the bandstand because his music was too loud.
Groll is proud of the fact that the summer concerts are free. He says he likes to provide a platform for local artists and many from around the region want to play there. Groll says the musicians are usually booked nine months ahead of time. He says it is important to make music available to everyone in Sussex County both to increase tourism and from a cultural point of view.
Those sentiments were shared Friday night when the Freeman Stage at Bayside in Fenwick, Delaware brought the Mid-Atlantic Symphony for their now traditional start of the summer music season.
The Joshua Freeman Foundation runs the concerts series now beginning its fourth season. It was set up after the death of Joshua Freeman and is now run by his wife Michelle. She says her single goal is to increase the options for culture in Sussex County.
The stage features a mix of groups from the Delaware Symphony to tribute artists. This year Freeman says they are going to put on two high end acts, Lee Ann Rimes in June and the B-52’s in August. Freeman says they are also charging $10 a head on Friday nights. She wants to measure the level of support for the concerts. She adds that’s the best way to see what kind of expansion they might attempt in the future.
About 400 people from Delaware beach communities and Maryland towns on the Eastern Shore came to listen to a mix of classic composers and a tribute to Michael Jackson. Most have been coming to Freeman stage, which sits in a grassy area next to a man-made lake at the resort community of Bayside, for a few years. All said they plan to be regulars.
The weekend kicks of a big week for music in Delaware. The Clifford Brown Jazz Festival begins another year Sunday. There will be nightly concerts beginning Tuesday. Those will be held on Rodney Square. First will record the first act, Manifest 3 on Tuesday and play back parts of that concert Friday night on First at 5:30 and 10pm.