After a year-plus of pandemic-related hardships, some overdue good news for local music fans emerged on Tuesday.
The Town of Wilkesboro announced the lineup of its popular summer music concert series, another good sign of a return to (relative) normalcy after the series was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.
The first concert in the Carolina West Wireless Community Commons starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 8, with four acts led off by the Adam Booker Trio, comprised of music faculty from Appalachian State University.
The jazz trio will be followed by the Trailblazers, a progressive Americana band whose lineup includes Wilkesboro mandolinist Jonah Horton.
The band released an acclaimed new album, “Space and Time,” in November.
Then comes the jazz, blues, R&B and soul of the Eli Yacinthe Band.
Yacinthe is a native of Statesville who played at the 2017 MerleFest and dropped a cover album on April 2 which is available on the usual streaming platforms.
Rounding out the 5-10 p.m. block is the Songs from the Road Band, a five-piece “newgrass” unit based in West Asheville. With six albums to their credit, the band pushes boundaries and you’re likely to hear influencers from Traffic to Pink Floyd in their set lists.
There will be no shortage of brilliant mandolinists on May 8, as Mark Schimick, a founding member of the headliners, has played alongside Larry Keel, Vassar Clements and Tony Rice, to name a few.
Wilkes native Will Easter will host and play a 45-minute set that kicks off the music from 6-10 p.m. on Saturday, June 12. A second act that hasn’t been firmed up yet will perform on the Wilkes Communications Pavilion stage from 7-7:45 p.m.
The headliner on June 12 is Aztec Sun, a jazz-funk-fusion band from Washington, D.C. The “funk with soul” nine-piece ensemble define themselves as a “retro blend of ’70s funk and soul with heavy undertones of jazz, blues and afro funk.”
The lineup on Saturday, July 10, was originally locked in for 2020: MerleFest regulars Ashley Heath & Her Heathens play their Americana rock from 6-8 p.m. and the Atlanta-based Fleetwood Mac tribute band called “Rumours ATL” closes from 8-10 p.m.
Fleetwood Mac released some of the most iconic hits of the late 1970s, including “Go Your Own Way,” “You Make Loving Fun” and “Don’t Stop” from the album that influenced the name of the tribute band.
Another headliner from last August who retained their spot on Saturday, Aug. 14, is the Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band called “Creedence Revived.” CCR was another hitmaker from 1968 to 1971, with a string of nine top 10 hits from “Proud Mary” to “Sweet Hitch-Hiker.”
“Creedence Revived” will follow a band called Arts Fishing Club, a Nashville-based modern acoustic rock foursome that are often compared to Edward Sharpe and Ben Harper. They blend modern indie-folk with classic ’90s jam bands — a recipe for must-listen music, in my opinion.
There won’t be a concert on the second Saturday in September due to the MerleFest music festival on the campus of Wilkes Community College. For one year only, MerleFest will be held Sept. 16-19 instead of the traditional slot in April.
The series will conclude on Oct. 9 with Abby Bryant & the Echoes (formerly known as DownTown Abby) opening for “Face 2 Face,” a popular act featuring two piano players “dueling” and paying tribute to pop music legends Elton John and Billy Joel.
Between John and Joel, the iconic piano men have an incredible 90 top 40 hits to their credit.
I doubt there will be a single song during the set that’s not instantly recognizable to most of the audience.
To keep up to date with the latest announcement and happenings in the downtown, bookmark the Historic Downtown Wilkesboro page on Facebook.