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Arts in the Park returns with blues, country and more

By The Mercury

The sound of music will fill the Little Apple once again this summer.

The Arts in the Park series will return on May 23 and continue every Friday until Aug. 15. All concerts will be held in the Larry Norvell Band Shell at City Park. Admission to Arts in the Park is free.

This year’s acts include several notable blues acts as well as country performers. Several local ensembles, including groups from Manhattan High and Fort Riley, will also play during the series.

May 23 — MHS Pops Choir and Thundering Cats Big Band, 8 p.m.

The Manhattan High School Pops Choir is the school’s show choir and is led by performing arts teacher Chad Pape.

The Thundering Cats Big Band is a jazz ensemble made up of K-State music professors in addition to members of the wider Manhattan community. The group originated in 2010 and is directed by Fred Burrack. The 19-piece band plays classics from artists like Count Basie, Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington.

May 30 — Briar, 8 p.m.

Briar is made up of Briana and Renee Wright, a mother-daughter vocal duo and songwriting team that performs with several Kansas City blues musicians.

June 6 — The Wailin’ Jennys, 8 p.m.

The Wailin’ Jennys are a Canadian vocal trio. The three performed solo as singer/songwriters before playing together as a group at a guitar shop in Winnipeg.

They have released four studio albums since 2006 and have won multiple Juno (Canadian Grammy) Awards. Their live album “Live at Mauch Chunk Opera House” spent more than a year on the Billboard bluegrass charts.

June 13 — The Big Time Grain Company, 8 p.m.

The Big Time Grain Company is a country western and country rock out of Kansas City and the Overland Park/Olathe area. The group was founded by brothers Chad and Bret Bourquin, natives of Colby.

The band includes guitars but also features piano, banjo and violin.

June 27 — The 1st Infantry Division Band, 8 p.m.

The 1st Infantry Division Band is the official musical ambassador of the “Big Red One.” Members of the band often are deployed with the units from the division, including in recent years to Afghanistan and Iraq.

The ceremony band plays for memorial services, holiday observances and changes of command. It also performs at social events for soldiers.

The music will be a mix of jazz, rock and blues.

July 11 — Randy McAllister, 8 p.m.

McAllister is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Texas. He learned to play the drums because his father, who was also a firefighter, played the drums.

His music blends several genres including blues, country, rock and zydeco. McAllister was nominated for a Grammy in 2002 for his album “Givers and Takers.”

July 18 — Manhattan Municipal Band, 7:30 p.m.

The Manhattan Municipal Band is a local ensemble with members including students and staff from K-State and other schools as well as military personnel. The group has been part of the community since 1920 and played its first concert on the lawn of the Riley County Courthouse. It’s current director is Frank Tracz, professor of music and director of bands at K-State.

July 25 — Tribute to Journey Odyssey Road, 8 p.m.

Although Tribute to Journey Odyssey Road does not try to pass themselves off as Journey lookalikes, they try to bring the energy of the original hits to the stage. They have been recreating Journey songs since early 2009.

The group was founded by Mike Soper, keyboardist and vocalist, and James “Bubba” Sanderford, who is the groups lead vocalist.

Aug. 1 —Run Boy Run, 8 p.m.

Run Boy Run is an all-acoustic quintet from Arizona that blends bluegrass, folk, classical and jazz. They appeared twice on NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” and host Garrison Keillor wrote the liner notes to their debut album, “So Sang the Whipoorwill,” which was released in March 2013.

Aug. 2 — Little Apple Music Festival, 5 p.m.

In its second year, the Little Apple Music Festival will host five acts, each with a one-hour set. Beginning at 5 p.m., the performers will be, in order, the Fort Riley Jazz Combo, Vineyard, Noah Hoehn, Samantha Fish and the Steel Wheels.

Aug. 8 — 7Bridges, 8 p.m.

7Bridges is an Eagles tribute band based in Nashville, Tenn. Members of the band are experienced in playing covers of classic bands, as members of the band have performed in tribute bands to Bad Company and KISS. Each member also played with their own bands before coming together a 7Bridges.

Aug. 15 — Trampled Under Foot, 8 p.m.

Trampled Under Foot is a blues band from Kansas City, Mo. The group is led by siblings Danielle and Nick Schnebelen, the children of Kansas City blues musicians.

The original lineup included their brother Kris Schnebelen, who left the band earlier this year. The siblings’ longtime friend Jan Faircloth then joined the band on drums.

The group won the 2008 International Blues Challenge and their most recent album, “Badlands,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard blues charts.

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