The annual free outdoor summer concert series at Stage For Park are under way and celebrating 27 seasons of music.
The summer concerts take place at 7 p.m. Sunday evenings at the Antonio Gentile Bandstand, overlooking scenic Gloucester Harbor. This has been the site of these concerts since its inaugural performance on Fathers Day in 1986 at which the Herb Pomeroy Band performed. Parking is free and the site is handicap-accessible and has rest rooms. All concerts have a rain date of the following Wednesday evening at 7.
In 1986 a small group of dedicated former band students of retired Gloucester High School Band Director Antonio F. Gentile began a modest celebration of annual summer concerts in the park. The shows became known for featuring some of the best local and professional musical entertainers in New England.
This year, two new acts will be performing as well as the Walker Creek Band, a local favorite celebrating its 25th anniversary, and Grupo Fantasia, a popular Latin and world music group.
This Sunday, July 14, features the 20-piece Compaq Big Band, sponsored by Gorton’s of Gloucester. Its big band repertoire honors the classics from the 1930s and 1940s as performed by the bands of Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and other greats. The band also honors the great vocalists with vocal numbers such as those made popular by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Bobby Darin, Nancy Wilson, Diane Schuur, and others. Their repertoire includes swing numbers from the 1950s and includes music from the bands of Buddy Rich, Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson.
“They play serious Big Band jazz,” said David Benjamin, the concert manager. “They play challenging music, and this band is always a hit with the local crowd.”
Each year Benjamin tries out something different to see how the crowd reacts. One change in this summer’s lineup came in the wake of the death of a member of the country western John Penny Band.