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St. Louis RCGA

Summer Music in the City

By Linda F. Jarrett

This summer, St. Louis City and County parks are alive with the sound of music, FREE music, and music to suit every taste, from blues to Zydeco, and all types in between. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring their blankets and chairs, the better to enjoy music under the summer stars. Some venues permit coolers and picnic baskets, others do not, so it would be best to call or check their websites before packing the car.

Whitaker Music Festival, Missouri Botanical Garden

Besides being the flora and fauna showplace of the Midwest, The Missouri Botanical Garden sponsors one of the area’s most popular musical events, the Whitaker Music Festival. Free concerts run from now through Aug. 9, every Wednesday beginning at 7:30 p.m. Acts include Missouri folk and bluegrass group, Flying Mules, Autumn’s Child, and Raven Moon.

The Carondelet Betterment Federation features concerts at two parks. Carondelet Park at the corner of I-55 and Loughbor-ough Avenue will have concerts every Sunday during July and August. Herb Eberle, Zydeco Crawdaddys and Die Spitzbaum are three of the bands that will perform. Bellerive Park, overlooking the Mississippi River at South Broadway and Bates Street present will present concerts every Monday during July with bluegrass bands The Greers, Midnight Flight, Meramec Jets and the Chris Talley Trio. Concerts run from 6 to 8 p.m. at both parks, and vendors will be selling snacks and drinks.

Compton Heights Band concert in Tower Grove Park

The Compton Heights Concert Band has been entertaining thousands of St. Louisans since 1976, and this year is no different. They perform “Sunday Serenades” at 7:30 p.m. from July 2 through Aug. 13 at Francis Park, Eichelberger and Donovan, and “Musical Mondays” July 3 through Aug. 14 at Tower Grove Park, South Grand and Magnolia Avenues. Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.

Always a favorite destination, Lafayette Park in the Lafayette Square Neighborhood attracts large crowds with their summer concerts. Neighborhood restaurants sell food and drink, and concerts are signed for the hearing impaired. Concerts run from 6 to 9 p.m. on July 1, 15, 29 and Aug. 12 and 26. The Arts Council of Lafayette Park has enlisted groups such as the Murder City Players, Swing Cat Swing and Anna Harris. The concert season ends on Sept. 9 with a “Taste of Lafayette” all day concerts.


For those who don’t want to drive far from home many area municipalities feature open air music events.

University City hosts two summer-long concerts. The Market in the Loop features marches, show tunes and big band music at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays. Heman Park is the location for the Annual Starlight Concert Series starting 7:30 p.m. on Mondays. Concertgoers will be treated to Jazz, blues, R&B, and Motown for starters.

The Maplewood Community Betterment Foundation along with the Chamber of Commerce presents concerts on the fourth Wednesday of the month in Junior High Park at Lyndover and Sutton. Festivities start at 6 p.m. and will feature Gumbohead, Magic Jam and the Javier Mendoza Band.

Brentwood Sounds of Summer Concert Series will be held at Field 4 in Brentwood Park. Fanfare performs July 7, Aug. 4 sees the Baker McClaren Band, and Cruzen cruises in on Sept. 16. Times are 7 to 10 p.m. with Sept. 16 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Music and movie lovers can head for Gazebo Park at the corner of Big Bend Boulevard and Old Orchard in Webster on July 7, 14 and 21 for movies and music under the stars. Music starts at 7 p.m. with a movie following at 9 p.m. Entertainment for July 7 will feature Erin Bode with the movie, “Sixteen Candles,” on the 14, Two Car Garage with “Beach Blanket Bingo,” and on the 21st, Farshid Etniko with “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.”

The Making Music Concert Series, sponsored by the Kirkwood Area Arts Council and Kirkwood Parks Department will be July 22, Aug. 12, and Sept. 10. The July and Aug. concerts perform at the Lions Amphitheater in Kirkwood Park, with the September concert at the Monaco Park Gazebo in Glendale. The music begins at 7 p.m. (314) 965-7100.

Des Peres will hold its Parties in the Park at Des Peres Park, 12325 Manchester Rd. Velvet and Satin performs on July 14 with the Ralph Butler Band on August 11. Times are 7 to 9:30 p.m.

The City of Florissant and the Florissant Fine Arts Council present their Music under the Stars Concert Series every Sunday from July 16 through August 20 at St. Ferdinand Park by the Lake, No. 25 St. Ferdinand Street. Artists include Bob Kuban Brass Band, The Boeing Employees Concert Band and SmashBand SuperHits.

The county contributes

St. Louis County Park Department offers a myriad of concert opportunities ar parks around the county.

On Sat., July 8, George Portz and his Friends of Bluegrass will perform from 7 to 9 p.m. at Suson Park, 6059 Wells Rd.

The Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the St. Louis County Parks Department, features concerts from 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays at Faust Park, 15185 Olive Blvd., through Aug. 15, with such names as Spectrum, St. Louis Brass and Bob Kuban. Concession stands open at 5:30 p.m.

On Sept. 8, 15, 22, and 20 the Parks Department present their “Blues on the Mississippi” series at Jefferson Barracks Park, I-55 and Telegraph Rd. from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. Performers include Chubby Carrier, Mark Stallings and Renee Smith.

Further afield

The Historic Downtown Association of St. Charles will hold their annual Music on Main on the third Wednesday of every month from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Look for the event on the 100 and 200 blocks of North Main St. in St. Charles. (636) 946-7776.

On the east side of the Mississippi, the Belleville Chamber of Commerce will hold the Fusion Street Fest on Belleville Main Street on July 21, 22, Aug. 18, 19, Sep. 15, 16, and Oct. 20, 21. Fridays 5 to 10 p.m. and Saturdays noon until 10 p.m.

Take advantage of the region’s diverse summer outdoor entertainment offerings. They’re free and they’re fun—what more can you ask for on a balmy summer evening?


When the Russel E. and Fern M. Hettenhausen Center for the Arts opens in November, Southern Illinois denizens will get the opportunity to experience quality theater in their own backyard.

Located at McKendree College in Lebanon, Ill., the $10 million, 34,400-square-foot theater is scheduled to be completed this summer.

Rendering for McKendree College new Center for the Arts

Director Peter Palermo, former director of operations and project manager for the Stern Grove Festival Association in San Francisco, was brought in by the College to handle the task of building a comprehensive arts program for the students and attract the community.

“This is a state–of-the-art theater,” Palermo says. “It will have all the modern facilities that a theater should have with a full-size stage and a 500-seat auditorium. Attached to it will be facilities for the band and the choral department, with offices and practice rooms.

“Our stage is 45-feet wide and 25-feet tall,” he says, comparing it to New York’s Metropolitan Opera House stage which is 50-feet wide and 40-feet tall. “We will be able to do full-scale ballet, opera or any type of play or dance that you can throw at us.”

The Center’s main objective is to provide students with an experience that is of a much more professional quality than what they have been doing.

“We want to give the students a chance to perform on a stage that they would encounter in the real world,“ Palermo says. “So the College went around raising money and finding generous donors, such as Fern Hettenhausen who gave a very significant gift. That is why the building bears hers and her husband’s name.”

The Center’s maiden season will feature both student and professional performances, Palermo says. “Some of the professionals appearing will be the Cypress String Quartet on Nov. 28; New Orleans Jazz Orchestra on Jan. 31, 2007, Giordano Jazz Dance from Chicago, Ill., on Feb. 14, and the Montana Repertory Theater from Missoula, MT doing “Lost In Yonkers’ on March 8. We will be announcing other events.”

McKendree College is just a 25-minute drive from Downtown St. Louis, and Palermo hopes that St. Louis and Metro East residents will make the trip to the Center for a large theater experience.


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Cover Story: Eric Rhone and Cedric the Entertainer
Jeffrey Michelman
Joe Edwards

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Whitaker Music Festival
Soulard Market
Ruth’s Chris Steak House


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