Music series

Oakland Waterfront Park musical series returns this summer after pandemic hiatus

The David Mallett Band performs under the gazebo in 2018 at Oakland Waterfront Park. Photo courtesy of Oakland Waterfront Park

This summer, Oakland Waterfront Park will welcome bands and spectators to the shores of Lake Messalonskee for a revival of the city’s free summer musical series.

After a break in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemicthe Oakland Parks and Recreation Department is planning eight concerts from 6-8 p.m. every Thursday from July 8 through August 26.

“We had discussions quite early in the winter to try to keep an eye on guidelines,” the media and special events coordinator said.Ryan Sucy who directs the daily operations of the musical series. “When spring came and we started getting ready for baseball, the guidelines relaxed enough where we thought we could make something work.”

Sucy, Parks and Recreation Director Eric Seekins and volunteer Chris McPherson met via Zoom to plan the musical series’ third year. They talked about planning different types of concerts, limiting each event to one act, and other options.

In 2019, the musical series exceeded its attendance targets, gaining 50% more viewers than the previous year. The Parks and Recreation Department took calls all spring asking if the musical series would return this summer, according to organizers.

“There’s definitely a lot of excitement there,” Sucy said.

Oakland Waterfront Park has a gazebo, swimming area, boat launch, tables and grills.

Seekins said he sought sponsors for the concert series, including Camp Manitou, Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate, Fabian Oil, Higgins & Bolduc Insurance, Kennebec Savings Bank and The Korner Store & Deli. No sponsor has left since the start of the music festival.

In partnership with the city, the Oakland Lions Club brings its food truck to provide concessions.

Because Maine’s coronavirus-related state of emergency is set to end in late June, there will be no capacity limits, physical distancing rules or face covering requirements at concerts, according to the organizers.

The musical performers, booked by McPherson, include Maine-based artists: Old Blues Kats, Eric Lunt, Sa’hara Melody, Richie Bartolo, Jeff Tones, Detour Project, Will McPherson and Fossils.

“We really decided that once this lifted we would be pretty close to normal,” Sucy said. “We have a great bunch of bands, trying to mix old people we’ve had before with new people. We’re just so excited – after missing a year – to be back and having such a great event.

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