Needham's Arts in the Parks concert series is back for the summer, with a full schedule of performances set to begin on Thursday, July 12 at Memorial Park.
The Tom Nutile Big Band will open the series on July 12—continuing a family tradition that has been going on for more than 35 years.
Organized by the Needham Park and Recreation Department, the annual Arts in the Parks concerts are held on Thursday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Memorial Park gazebo, located at the corner of Rosemary Street and Highland Avenue across from the Needham Free Public Library. In case of rain, the concerts will be moved indoors to the Needham High School auditorium, just up the hill.
All concerts are free and open to the community.
Here is a look at this year's concert line-up:
July 12: The Tom Nutile Big Band
The Tom Nutile Big Band, a 15-piece ensemble, one of the region’s best-known swing bands, will open the Needham Arts in the Parks Concert Series as they have for more than 30 years. The band swings like nobody’s business and also plays modern arrangements from the books of Maynard Ferguson and Charles Mingus big bands. Enjoy an evening to remember with music from the Big Band Era of the 1930s through the 1950s as well as the swing dance and jump music of the present day.
July 19: Groovy Afternoon
Groovy Afternoon is New England’s premiere tribute to the Woodstock era featuring a set list made up of the time period’s most iconic songs from legendary artisits like the Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, Cream, The Monkees, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and many others. Audiences will be amazed by the high energy performances that appeal to fans from ages 8-80. Come and share in this delightful musical journey back to the summer of peace and love.
July 26: Needham Community Band
Back by popular demand! Join the Needham Community Concert Band for an old-time summer band concert. The group, in its sixth year, brings together more than 40 Needham professional, semi-professionals and amateur musicians to play marches, classics and popular favorites. The band is directed by Needham Public Schools Fine and Performing Arts Director David Neves and is organized as part of Needham Community Education’s Summer Music Program.
Aug. 2: Olde Kids on the Block
The “Olde Kids” is a dance band of style of the big bands of the 1930s and '40s, recreating the glamour and romance of the era. Retired and semi retired musicians make up this versatile group. The group consists of six saxes, four trombones, four trumpets and four on rhythm and a vocalist. The “Olde Kids” have been called a “living museum." Their library of music of another era will have you humming and tapping your feet.
Aug. 9: Grupo Fantasia
Grupo Fantasia provides traditional island entertainment for all people and much of the music is performed on original, handmade indigenous instruments. The extensive repertoire includes original and cover songs from the Caribbean and Latin America. Also represented are various Cuban, Dominican Merengue, Puerto Rican Bomba and Plena, Colombian Cumbia, Mexican Mariachi, Calypso, Reggae and Salsa music.
Some musicians switch between two or three instruments during a concert. Angel Wagner juggles more than 30.
“We are an out-of-the-box Mariachi band,” Wagner said. “The band is open to any request that anyone might want hear.”
The variety makes for a "grupo fantasia"—a "group fantasy." Wagner said the name represents the idea of "all kinds of things for your musical fantasy." The beats always get the audience dancing, and Grupo Fantasia dancers will mingle with and teach the crowd. A hot and spicy variety of music for a hot summer night.
Aug. 16: Classic Groove
Classic Groove draws on the versatility of its members to perform a diverse mix of music for any occasion. Classic Groove’s repertoire ranges from R&B and Top 40 to smooth jazz and Latin. They are as comfortable with country and swing as with Middle Eastern music and show tunes. They play male and female duets, blues and Motown. The group consists of female lead vocalist, male vocals, saxophone, bass guitar, lead and rhythm guitar, drums and keyboard. Classic Groove provides a variety of live entertainment for music lovers of all ages and musical tastes.
Arts in the Parks is sponsored by Louise Condon Realty, the Needham Business Association, Needham Bank, Middlesex Savings Bank, the Needham Exchange Club, Dedham Savings Bank and the Needham Cultural Council.
For more information about the Arts in the Park concert series, go to www.needhamma.gov or call 781-455-7550 (press 3).