By Gail McCarthy
---- — Editor's note: The show with Digney Fignus was rescheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday, July 14, at Fitz Henry Lane Park.
The summer season ushers in a free outdoor concert series at Harbor Loop — as it has for four decades — that kicks off again tomorrow night.
“It’s an exciting season,” said Bradley Royds, one of the organizers. “It is the 40th anniversary of the event.”
The first concert features the local band Full Circle and Digney Fignus, whose band features local favorites. The music starts around 6:30 p.m.
Every Thursday evening, as the sun sets over Gloucester, music lovers can sit back and listen to musicians perform on a site overlooking the historic Inner Harbor from the hillside of Fitz Henry Lane Park. Those attending bring chairs or blankets, and picnic dinners or pizza to the shows. The audience is made up of all ages, including children, many who like to get up and dance.
Morgan Huke of Cape Ann Concerts started the Harbor Loop series in 1973.
“The concerts are a way to showcase the many gifted musicians in the area,” he said. “There’s a lot of wonderful talent, and many people don’t know it’s here.”
Royds, who began volunteering about seven years ago, said the concerts represent a community effort.
“We pay the sound guys but the rest are volunteers,” he said. “The bands volunteer to play, but a hat is passed for those who want to contribute. It says a lot about the community that we have banks and business and individuals who all contribute. This is about celebrating Gloucester.”
Many of the bands are North Shore-based so there are a lot of familiar faces.
Fignus, a veteran Boston-based singer-songwriter, said he and his band are thrilled to be in the line-up. This will be their first time performing in the series.
“We’re looking forward to coming up there and being part of the celebration,” he said. “We have a great band coming up there.”
Among those members is Alizon Lissance, an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music, on keyboards and squeeze box.
“She’s a Boston rock legend,” said Fignus.
Also in the band are Jon Donohoe on fiddle, mandolin, banjo and saxophone; Perry James on drums; and Wolfe Ginandes on bass.
Fignus has a long history in music, now with a focus on roots, and infused with rock and blues. It gives it a familiar feel but it gives it an edge.
Fignus’ latest CD, “Last Planet on the Left,” received national and international airplay, and spent a month in the Top 40 on the national Americana Chart and reached No. 6 on the International Roots/Rock Chart.
As a boy, he sang in a choir and played clarinet before he turned to the electric guitar. He came into the Boston music scene in the 1980s, performing with a three-piece Boston punk band called The Spikes. He later ran one of the early punk clubs in Boston. He knew well the name and fame of Gloucester punk rocker Willie “Loco” Alexander.
The other band sharing tonight’s bill is Full Circle, comprised of the familiar names and faces of West Thibodeau, Peter Malaquias, Mike Stanton, Roy Turner and Fred Tarbox. The band, which formed out of the popular band Major Nelson and the Screaming Jeannies, plays classic rock with some one-hit wonders mixed in for variety.
Tarbox attended the Harbor Loop concerts before he started playing them.
“It is a thrill to play in front of my hometown friends and other musicians from this town because Gloucester has such a rich musical heritage,” said Tarbox. “We play in clubs around here, but playing outside in front of hundreds of people — versus maybe a hundred people in a club — is a great experience.”
A major sponsor of this year’s shows is the Gloucester office of Coldwell Banker. However, Harry Pardee, another volunteer, says donations are still needed to pay for all eight shows. Any businesses or individuals interesting in donating should contact Pardee at firstname.lastname@example.org or Royds at email@example.com
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3445, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Loop performers All shows* start at 6:30 p.m. at Fitz Henry Lane Park off Harbor Loop in Gloucester, and are free. July 11: Digney Fignus and Full Circle. July 18: Honky Tonk Women and ToneCat July 25: Jake Pardee and Mamadou Aug. 1: Dented Schoolbus, Chocktaw Rocket, and Tuukis Aug. 8: Garfish and Secret Service. Aug. 15: Razdan A-Train Orchestra and Johnny Carwash Aug. 22: Souls of the Sea and Walker Creek Band Aug. 29: Piano Bar and What Time Is It, Mr. Fox? * Schedule may change without notice.