WILMINGTON — When Wilmington Downtown Inc. announced last month that it would not be continuing its Downtown Sundown concert series on the Riverwalk, one local jumped at the chance to pick up the tradition. Haven Holsinger saw firsthand the popularity of the seasonal series; she helped plan the shows each year from 2013 to 2020 when she worked under former WDI President Ed Wolverton.
In 2021, Holsinger took over as events coordinator for Port City Marina and helped Marina Grill book local bands for its Saturday Sunset series.
READ MORE: Downtown Sundown is gearing up for good
“One of the biggest complaints we used to hear with Downtown Sundown was that local bands weren’t featured,” said Holsinger. “And Marina Grill was already doing Saturday night gigs focused just on local and regional bands. So we have found a balance. »
Twenty-eight bands are scheduled for the Saturday Sunset series, while the new Friday Night Live! will feature nine tribute acts. Both series remain free and open to the public.
The Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park neighbors the marina. Holsinger said Friday night tribute shows are not scheduled on the same nights as Live Nation-booked concerts. However, the series of local bands on Saturday will continue, even if the national headliners perform alongside.
Holsinger said local bands normally play from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., but will take the stage earlier, around 5 p.m., to entertain the crowds waiting to enter the pavilion.
The Saturday Sunset series begins this weekend in the Marina Grill shipyard area (18 Harnett St.). This year’s list replaces last year’s; Holsinger has booked 20 local groups compared to 12 in 2021. While some repeat between April and October, its goal by next year is to feature a different local act each week.
“More local bands have reached out to me since we announced the Saturday series this year,” she said.
So far, she has on the roster singer-songwriter David Dixon, rockabilly band Phantom Playboys, Americana darlings Into the Fog and bluegrass pickers Massive Grass, among others.
The nine tribute bands Holsinger booked for Friday Night Live! were eliminated from his Downtown Sundown Rolodex. The tribute bands will play from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. under the shell at the end of the pier, between Memorial and Labor Days. Port City Marina can hold up to 3,000 people, depending Holsinger: “Sometimes Downtown Sundown would have so many people.”
She identified the bands that drew the biggest crowds and were the easiest — and most enjoyable — to work with during Downtown Sundown. Not to mention, a few were his personal favorites.
“There’s a sense of nostalgia in tribute bands” said Holsinger. “You can tell someone exactly the first time you heard a specific band or song, and how that song impacted your life.”
Funky Monks will perform all Red Hot Chili Peppers tracks on June 24, while Breakfast Club will bring back the 80s sounds on July 8.
“I’d probably be hunted if I didn’t bring them back” said Holsinger.
The May 27 launch show will feature Tuesday’s Gone, an act by Lynyrd Skynyrd from Raleigh. Former Skynyrd drummer Delmer “Artimus” Pyle, who played with the Southern rock band from 1974 to 1977, will join the concert.
“We’ve always tried to put the Zac Brown tribute, 20 Ride, near the 4th of July,” she said, “because for some reason it evokes patriotism in everyone.”
20 Ride occurs on July 1st.
Holsinger also booked two new bands she’s never worked with before: Cosmic Charlie (Grateful Dead) and Guardians of the Jukebox (playing MTV-era covers).
Bars will be set up throughout the marina area to sell beer, wine and spirits; spectators can pay cash or credit for their drinks. Wristbands will be required for those 21 and over who wish to drink alcohol – a safety measure Holsinger also said will create an opportunity to give back.
Similar to WDI’s program, a different non-profit organization will be chosen each week to receive half of the proceeds from wristband sales. Groups are $1, and the nonprofit provides eight volunteers to check IDs during Friday Night Live! shows.
“Our bartenders will continue to bar individuals because it is necessary,” Holsinger verified. “But the bracelets are our first line of defense. And up to $1,000 will be shared equally with the charity.
Until now Holsinger said he received about a dozen applications from local nonprofits, but expects more to arrive next week. A committee will select the beneficiaries, but by next year Holsinger hopes to have a plan in place so the community can vote on who is chosen.
Friday night live! Program7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
May 27 — Tuesday’s Gone (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
June 24 – Funky Monks (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
July 1 – 20 Ride (Band Zac Brown)
July 8 — Breakfast Club (80s band)
July 29 – Cosmic Charlie (Grateful Dead)
August 5 – Fix You (Coldplay)
August 12 – Guardians of the Jukebox (Tribute to MTV-era acts)
August 19 – Abbey Road Live (Beatles)
September 2 — Departure (Travel)
Saturday Night Series, 6-9 p.m. (unless otherwise noted)
April 16 – Machine Gun (Downtown Thunder Bike Night)
April 23 – Dekker Road
May 7 — David Dixon (5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.)
May 14 – Chuck Mountain
May 21 — Lunar Tide
May 28 – TBA (Downtown Thunder Bike Night)
June 4 — Phantom Playboys (5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.)
June 11 – Southern Trouble (Downtown Thunder Bike Night)
June 18 — AllGirl Rhythm (5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.)
June 25 — Machine Gun
July 2 — The Conspiracy (5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.)
July 9 — Dane Britt
July 16 — Massive Grass (Downtown Thunder Bike Night)
July 23 — Phantom Playboys (5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.)
July 30 – Port City Shakedown
Aug. 6 – Medicated Sunfish (5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.)
August 13 – No more problems
August 20 – Chuck Mountain (Downtown Thunder Bike Night)
August 27 – Massive Grass
September 3 — In the fog (5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.)
September 10 – Uptown Easy (Downtown Thunder Bike Night)
September 17 – Port City Shakedown
September 24 – Machine Gun
October 1 — Juno
October 8 – Steele Country Express
October 15 – Parliament
October 22 – Miles Band Highway
October 29 – Uptown Easy
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