This town slows down a little in the summer, no question. A lot of KSU students leave town, it gets hot, and the pace eases. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do.
As the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and UFM catalogs remind us, there’s plenty to stimulate body and mind. And there’s plenty to set one’s toes a-tapping.
One of the delights of summer in Manhattan — and one of those things that sets our city apart from a lot of others its size — is Arts in the Park, the free summer concert series in City Park.
The most traditional element of Arts in the Park is the Manhattan Municipal Band. Consisting of musicians of all ages who play because it makes them and other people feel good, the city band performed at Sunset Cemetery this morning and will open its regular season with a performance at 7:30 tonight at the Larry Norvell Band Shell. The city band will return on Tuesday, June 5, and play each Tuesday through July 17.
As longtime residents know, Arts in the Park offers a variety of other entertainment from near and far, usually at 8 p.m. Fridays or Saturdays, at the Norvell Band Shell. This Friday, for example, White Ghost Shivers, a versatile group from Austin, Tex., will bring ragtime, jazz, swing, bluegrass, cabaret, vaudeville and burlesque to Manhattan. The week after that, the Ruth Moody Band, from Toronto, will take the stage. Juneteenth, appropriately, will be the theme June 15 and 16, with gospel music Friday and the Daddy Mack Blues Band from Memphis on Saturday.
The last two Fridays in June will feature the Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band from Ypsilanti, Mich., and The Wilders, a Kansas City, Mo., band that blends bluegrass and rock and roll.
The Little Apple Jazz Festival will seize the attention on Saturday, July 14 with a range of activities, including food, music and arts and crafts. Featured performances include the Panorama Jazz Band from New Orleans and Watermelon Slim from Oklahoma. On July 20, the Benders, a Derby band, brings its ’50s and ’60s show to City Park, and on July 27, Manhattan residents will be treated to superb local fare. That’s when Streetside, whose members are KSU and MHS alumni, perform — a capella — ’50s and ’60s doo-wop. They’re terrific.
An entertainer from a little farther afield — Dougie MacLean from Dunkeld, Scotland — will wrap up the 2012 Arts in the Park season with lyrics and instrumental compositions that have made him among his country’s most popular musicians.
If you’ve never been to an Arts in the Park show, you’re missing good music and a great atmosphere. See you there.