(Editor’s note: Schedule of concerts follows this story)
You don’t have to go far to find free entertainment this summer in Kent.
The annual city-sponsored Kent Summer Concert Series opens this week and offers a variety of free concerts nearly every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday over the next two months at several sites.
“We try to do a real mix so we have different genres that appeal to everybody,” said Ronda Billerbeck, city program manager for cultural events.
The concert series includes:
• Take-Out Tuesdays – from noon to 1 p.m. at Kent Station, 417 Ramsay Way. Concerts start July 7.
• Wednesday Picnic Performances – especially for children, from noon to 1 p.m. at Town Square Plaza Park, Second Avenue and Harrison Street. Concerts start July 8.
• Thursdays at the Lake – from 7-8:30 p.m. at Lake Meridian Park, 14800 S.E. 272nd St. Concerts start July 9.
• Playground Performances – aimed at children, from noon to 1 p.m. Thursdays at West Fenwick Park, 3824 Reith Road. Concerts start July 23.
City officials also added three, free outdoor movies to be shown on Friday nights Aug. 7, 14 and 21 at Town Square Plaza Park. The movies are “Footloose,” at 9:15 p.m. Aug. 7; “Mama Mia!” the sing-along edition at 9 p.m. Aug. 14; and “Kung Fu Panda,” at 8:45 p.m. Aug. 21.
The city presented an outdoor movie two years ago at Lake Meridian Park, but did not offer any movies last summer.
“It was popular and something we wanted to continue,” Billerbeck said. “We picked a fun mix of movies. We think it’ll be fun downtown at somewhere more central and where it’s easier to park.”
Moviegoers will need to bring their own chairs or blankets to sit on. City crews will set up a big screen at the northwest corner of the park, facing toward the fountains.
While the movies could prove to be popular with residents, the concerts continue to be a hit summer after summer.
The size of the crowds range from 200 to 500 at the Take-Out Tuesdays, 300 to 1,000 at the Wednesday Picnic Performances, 300 to 700 at the Thursdays at the Lake and 200 to 300 at the Playground Performances.
“The summer concerts have been going on for a long time and they’re always a fun, annual thing,” Billerbeck said.
The types of music at the concerts includes pop, rock, world and even a bit of classical.
Recess Monkey, which bills itself as Seattle’s greatest children’s music band, is one group to keep an eye out for at the Wednesday Picnic Performances. Recess Monkey plays July 29 at Town Square Plaza Park.
“It’s kind of pop rock,” Billerbeck said. “They have a lot of influences. They have silly and fun lyrics.”
Bearfoot, which plays July 16 at Thursdays at the Lake, is a bluegrass band from Alaska.
“They’re an up-and-coming band,” Billerbeck said.
Concert organizers try to mix in newer bands along with older bands that always seem to draw a good crowd.
Reilly and Maloney, the Seattle folk group that became popular in the 1980s, plays July 30 at Lake Meridian Park. Uncle Bonsai, a Seattle folk trio, plays Aug. 13 at Lake Meridian.
“They parted ways but now they’re back,” Billerbeck said about Uncle Bonsai.
The summer concerts are presented by Kent Parks, Recreation and Community Services and the Kent Arts Commission, with the support of local sponsors.
For more information and schedules, call 253-856-5050 or go to www.kentarts.com.
Kent Summer Concerts Series
Take-Out Tuesdays, noon-1 p.m.
at Kent Station Plaza, 417 Ramsay Way
July 14 Bakra Bata
July 21 Hot Club Sandwich
July 28 The Senate
Aug. 4 DownTown Mountain Boys
Aug. 11 The Bottom Line Duo
Wednesday Picnic Performances (for parents, children), noon-1 p.m.
Town Square Park, Second Avenue and Harrison Street
July 8 Tickle Tune Typhoon
July 15 Roberto the Magnificent
July 22 Bill Robison
July 29 Recess Monkey
Aug. 5 Brian Vogan
Thursdays at the Lake, 7-8:30 p.m.
Lake Meridian Park, 14800 S.E. 272nd St.
July 9 Red Stick Ramblers
July 16 Bearfoot
July 23 Eric Bibb
July 30 Reilly and Maloney
Aug. 6 Los Pinguos
Aug. 13 Uncle Bonsai