For many years, the City of Middletown leaders have done their part to reach out to citizens as well as those from neighboring towns by hosting a number of fun events, such as the Family Fun Festival and Craft Show, Light Up Middletown, and the Summer Concert Series, which is traditionally held at Wetherby Park by City Hall.
The concert series was originally slated to begin on May 17, starting off with three Middletown schools including the Eastern High School band, the Hite Elementary Jam Band and Middletown Elementary School choir. Eight music groups are scheduled to perform on five separate Sundays, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Currently, city leaders are not certain if any of the bands will play due to the coronavirus outbreak – but keep reading for some info about the bands scheduled to perform.
Deanne McQuaide, administrative assistant for the City of Middletown, works with Mayor Byron Chapman, a city commissioner and the city clerk, to search for bands and determine which ones will participate in the yearly series.
“It’s really important to the mayor and our commissioners to put a variety of music out there, to foster a sense of community within our city,” McQuaide explains. “This gives people a reason to come out and relax and talk to each other, and enjoy the surroundings. It’s really a nice event.”
The award-winning Eastern High School band has been a part of this community tradition for years, and its director, Mike Arthur, is thrilled to have his students invited back again.
“We’re excited to start off the series with our annual pops concert,” he says. “We will perform a variety of literature from classical standards to pop tunes you can sing along with. We look forward to performing for the community.”
The event will mark the first time the Jam Band, directed by Jeffrey Payton, has performed in the series.
“We are looking forward to showcasing the students’ hard work,” Payton says.
Members of the band are required to audition for a spot in the ensemble. According to Payton, who will play bass with his group, there are ten vocalists, two percussionists, two keyboardists, a guitarist and one ukulele player. The Jam Band was founded by Jecorey Arthur, and it has been in existence for three years.
The Middletown Elementary School choir, led by director Michele Skirvin, consists of fifty-one students in the fourth and fifth grades. The choir performs at two school concerts in December and April, and appears around Louisville at nursing homes, at the Light Up Middletown celebration during the holiday season, and at the summer series at Wetherby Park. According to Skirvin, the choir’s selections for the spring include pieces that center around loving yourself and others.
“We enjoy singing at Wetherby Park because it’s a great way to connect with the Middletown community,” Skirvin says. “It’s also a great venue for displaying our students’ talent.”
The June 14 concert is scheduled to feature The Wulfe Bros., a fan favorite in the area. The group is one of the longest-running bands in Kentuckiana. It consists of leader Paul Cunningham on bass, guitar and vocals, Rodney Wurtele on keyboards and vocals, and Jeffrey Jarboe on drums and vocals. The original group was founded fifty years ago, and the current members have been together for an impressive 30 years.
“The Wulfe Bros. perform a variety of music from every decade,” Cunningham says. “We sing everything from ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ to a medley of songs from the group The Four Seasons.”
Cunningham says the Middletown Concert appeals to all ages.
“It gives us the opportunity to see many longtime Wulfe Bros. fans, and to connect with new people who are experiencing us for the first time,” he says.
The July 12 concert is scheduled to feature two very diverse performances by the Louisville Police Pipes and Drums and the Kaintuck Band. The former act has been in existence since 2011 and consists of 15 members. Their mission is to continue to foster the Celtic tradition in law enforcement and to honor fire, police and emergency medical services personnel who protect and serve our communities.
If bluegrass music is your jam, the Kaintuck Band from Louisville is right up your alley. This band has been in existence for just three years, founded by Jim Armstrong, and consists of five members – Armstrong on fiddle and vocals, Loren Johnson on upright bass and vocals, Mark Payne on five-string banjo and vocals, Sonny Doak on guitar and vocals, and Paul Colon on mandolin and vocals.
“This is a family-friendly venue and the crowd is very responsive to our performances,” Armstrong says. “We enjoy performing at venues where the audience appreciates the music.”
The August 16 concert is scheduled to include Moondance, a classic rock band.
“We pay a lot of attention to detail, trying to recreate the exact sound of the original songs that we cover,” says Moondance lead guitarist John Laswell. “We try to play songs from the most popular bands from the ‘60s and ‘70s, and some from the ’80s.
Rounding out the season on September 20 is Artie Dean Harris and Bourbontown. You’re in for a real boot-stomping time as you kick back and listen to this country-rock party band. Harris has shared the stage with Tim McGraw, Ty Herndon, Aaron Tipton, Big & Rich, Blake Shelton and Clay Walker. The group plays a mix of pop, dance, southern rock, classic country and today’s country hits.
Besides providing a variety of musical artists, the city also offers free food to patrons, including hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and drinks. McQuaide says city leaders are grateful to the Middletown Lions Club leaders for their participation, as they bring out their grills to cook up food for the crowds. The mayor and city leaders also give thanks to the Middletown Police Department and other city departments for their help throughout the summer to make this concert series a success.
For more info, go to cityofmiddletownky.org.