White Ghost Shivers to start a strong Arts in the Park season

By Megan Moser

Two big acts will bookend this summer’s Arts in the Park at Larry Norvell Band Shell.

The 2012 concert season opens June 1 with White Ghost Shivers out of Austin, Texas, a fun and theatrical group known for its combination of ragtime, jazz, swing and bluegrass music combined with cabaret, vaudeville and burlesque.

And the season will close Aug. 3 with Scottish musician Dougie MacLean, a highly respected singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist in the U.K. He is best known for his songs “The Gael,” which was adapted as the main theme for the 1992 movie “The Last of the Mohicans,” and the song “Caledonia” which has been covered by many artists and has been called Scotland’s unofficial national anthem.

“We are one of the few concerts that he will be doing this year in the U.S.,” said Kathryn Swan, recreation supervisor.

In between, there are plenty of performances to enjoy, from the steel-drum sounds of the Trinidad Tripoli Steel Band to the bluegrass rock ‘n’ roll of The Wilders, out of Kansas City, Missouri. The Wilders have never played in Manhattan before, Swan said, but the group is planning a hiatus to pursue solo projects, so it may be the last chance to see them.

Performers are coming from near and far. Ruth Moody Band out of Ontario will perform its country/bluegrass love songs June 8. And The Benders, of Derby, Kansas, will bring show tunes from the ‘50s and ‘60s with hairdos to match on July 20.

But for a truly local act, catch Streetside, comprising K-State and MHS alumni singing a capella doo-wop.

Arts in the Park this summer also includes quite a bit of jazz. On June 16, Daddy Mack Blues Band of Memphis will play in conjunction with the local Juneteenth festival.

And in July, the city will have its annual Little Apple Jazz Festival, featuring New Orleans’ Panorama Jazz Band, Watermelon Slim and other artists, not to mention food, arts and activities.

Entering her seventh season as Arts in the Park organizer, Swan said she couldn’t choose one band she’s most looking forward to seeing. Trinidad Tripoli, The Benders and Streetside are “cool old favorites we haven’t had for a couple of years,” she said, but the new acts will be exciting to see.

She said people are already calling to try and get tickets to MacLean’s show. That’s perhaps the best part of Arts in the Park: it’s free.

“I have people call from out of state wondering, ‘How do I get tickets for the Dougie MacLean concert?’ I tell them, ‘Just show up.’ That’s kind of cool.”

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