March 20, 2013 10:28:00 AM
Carmen K. Sisson - email@example.com
Today marks the advent of spring, ushering in warmer temperatures and a growing Columbus tradition.
Noon Tunes kicks off Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Trotter Convention Center courtyard, with live music from light rock favorite Paul Brady. Lunch will be provided by Zachary's at a cost of $7 for a sandwich and drink.
This is the sixth year Main Street Columbus has offered lunchtime music al fresco, but putting it together was a first for new Main Street director Barbara Bigelow. She credited former director Amber Brislin for a smooth transition, saying Brislin had done much of the planning before her December 2012 departure.
The five-week series, ending April 18, is free and open to the public.
"It's a great way for people to get out of their offices and go downtown for a little while," Bigelow said. "You don't have to sit down in a restaurant and wait for the food to come -- the food is already prepared. You can certainly do it within a one-hour lunchtime."
Traditionally, the outdoor concerts are held Thursdays at the Trotter courtyard, moving to the lawn beside the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center during the two weeks of the Spring Pilgrimage, which will be held April 1-13 this year.
Most of the music tends to be light, acoustical pieces suitable for a laid-back, easygoing lunch experience. The musicians are chosen from a broad pool of local musical talent -- most hand-culled by Main Street staff who hear them performing somewhere and are enchanted by their sound.
"I've heard them all, and I think they're great," Bigelow said. "They all provide a different kind of music. There are so many wonderful musicians in Columbus. We select the ones we think will fit that particular venue."
The names will be familiar to many -- most have played previously at Noon Tunes, the Market Street Festival, Sounds of Summer or other local events.
Brady, who moved from Alabama to Columbus in 2001, is known for his classic rock covers -- "real recognizable songs," Bigelow said.
Katie Burchfield will perform March 28 at the Trotter courtyard. She can be found on YouTube performing a soulful rendition of "Me and Bobby McGee" at the Farmer's Market. She also played country singer "Loretta Lynn" in the 2011 performance of "Happy Flower Radio Hour," a tribute by the Columbus Arts Council to country and western music's pioneers.
Mike Cooper and Melvin Mordecai will perform April 4 and April 11, respectively, at the Tennessee Williams home. Lunch will be available for purchase from the Front Door/Back Door restaurant.
The last concert in the series returns to the Trotter Courtyard April 18 and will feature female rocker Dawn Barham.
Barham, who typically fronts the Juke Joint Gypsies, is known for not only the energy she brings to her shows but also for her skills as a guitarist and lyricist. Her music is influenced by Elvis Presley, the blues and country and western music. With the Juke Joint Gypsies, she has opened for the Marshall Tucker Band, the Little River Band and Ratt. She and the band have shared the stage with such notables as the Drifters and Blind Mississippi Morris.
Bigelow said she is excited about this year's Noon Tunes and the lineup it offers.
"It's very enjoyable," she said. "It's a good social time, and it's a really good break."
For more information about Noon Tunes, please call Main Street Columbus at 662-328-6305.
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.