June 1, 2013 6:16:23 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
The lazy, hazy days of summer will get a high-octane welcome to the Golden Triangle Thursday when the Juke Joint Gypsies kick off Sounds of Summer at the Columbus Riverwalk at 7 p.m.
The dynamic rock-n-bluesy band fronted by Dawn Barham -- who was very recently announced as a quarterfinalist for the Grammy Foundation's first-ever Music Educator Award, to be presented in 2014 -- will entertain at the first of four free concerts scheduled in June and July at the Riverwalk. Professional musicians Mike Chain, Tony Foster and Gary Shaw complete the group.
Main Street Columbus Executive Director Barbara Bigelow said, "We're so excited to partner with the (Golden Triangle Development) LINK again to present Sounds of Summer. I believe the community truly enjoys this quality event that continues to grow in popularity each year."
The evening concerts along the banks of the old Tombigbee River channel provide an opportunity for family and friends to enjoy some of the area's best musicians from the comfort of their lawn chairs or blankets. Food and cold beverages are available for purchase at each event.
Keith and Margie Brown, with their repertoire of R&B, soul, funk, blues and pop, entertain June 20. Swing Shift's good-time rock-n-roll takes center stage July 11. The seven-piece Deacon Jones and the Late Night, complete with horns, wraps up the summer series on July 25. All are repeat Sounds of Summer performers, back by popular demand.
Deacon Jones' front- man Dee McKay praised improvements made at the concert site in the past several years. Those include paved access to the stage for loading and unloading, steps in front of the stage and enhanced landscaping.
Johnny Coleman of Swing Shift shared, "To be able to look out and see everyone, the lazy, beautiful afternoon at the Riverwalk, the buzz in the air from the crowd, the chance to make some good music and do that in front of our friends -- pardon my stealing another's line, but -- 'It don't get no better than this."
Bigelow stressed the role sponsors play in continuing the outdoor music series. "They make it possible to bring these wonderful evenings to the community; without them, we couldn't do it," she said. "And let's not forget that the Southeast Tourism Society has again selected Sounds of Summer as a Top 20 Event in the Southeast for 2013."
All concerts are free and last from 7 to 9 p.m. No coolers or pets, please. The Riverwalk is located at First Street South and Main Street. For more information, contact Main Street Columbus, 662-328-6305.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.