AMHERST – Summer Music on the Amherst Common, presented by the Amherst Business Improvement District (BID) returns for the second year to bring a diverse collection of free performances to the South Common every Friday night at 6 p.m. July 22-August 12.
The lineup opens with Jazz in July, a two-week summer program from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) where students and faculty learn from jazz educators and artists. On July 29, local artists Dawn Lepere and Jeff Starns open for blues singer-songwriter Arden Lee. The theme for the Aug. 5 show is “Family Dance Party,” featuring Latin Grammy Award-winning children’s music artist Mister G and the 9-piece Western Massachusetts ensemble, Soul Magnets. . The final show mixes country and pop rock with the Rosie Porter Trio and Maxxtone. The event is sponsored by Encharter Insurance.
Amherst BID Executive Director Gabrielle Gould said it’s important to the BID and the community that events are free for all ages. She said it brings diversity and fairness to the audience that you wouldn’t typically see at paid shows.
“One of the ways it really helps develop arts and culture is that even if you can afford to bring your 6-year-old to a show, if he collapses halfway through, you have feel like you’ve imposed on someone else, but you also feel like you’ve hurt yourself and hurt your financial well-being,” Gould said. “What’s great about free shows , is that it’s the perfect time to experience bringing art into yourself and to the people around you because you’re not losing anything, and you know you’re not offending anyone if you get up and need of running. or walk away or do your own thing.
Gould said part of the event’s mission relates to that of The Drake, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit performance and music venue that opened in downtown Washington. ‘Amherst on April 28 as a space to center arts and culture, and attract people to eat, shop and mingle in Amherst. She said The Drake was able to introduce diverse genres and cultures in its first three months and helped audiences challenge audiences to bridge cultural gaps and preconceived notions or prejudices about race. and religion.
“We believe The Drake has this incredible opportunity to bring an incredible array of everything from Moroccan pop stars to American hip hop to jazz standards, classical musicians, chamber musicians to the stage and present them in a space that lends itself so well because we built something that was kind of ambiguous,” Gould said. “It was part of our mission, it was to make sure we brought a global perspective to the town of Amherst, the community and the visitor community.”
The Summer Music Series encourages people to eat at one of the various cuisines in downtown Amherst while serving local businesses such as White Lion Brewing, Artifact Cider Project, Black Birch Vineyards and Crème Bru.LA.
“The sole purpose of putting on this four-part series that cost the BID many zeros at the end of this first dollar sign is the economic empowerment of our community,” Gould said. “How do I get 1,000 people downtown on a Friday night in July, which would normally be pretty empty here because all the students are gone, the teachers are gone, everyone’s on vacation? How do you encourage people to leave their very comfortable, air-conditioned homes and say, “You know what? Tonight we’re going for a walk downtown and we’re going to support a local business and we’re going to listen to some amazing art. Economical driving is the key behind it all.
Gould said he believes the economic vitality of a town like Amherst is driven by experience and nostalgia. She said the goal is to spread wealth by bringing people back downtown and remembering what life was like before the pandemic by enjoying food, drink, music and the company of loved ones.
“It’s a city when you look at all the cultural offerings we have here and we forget that because we’re a college town,” Gould said. “I really think if we can start to rightfully reposition Amherst as a cultural mecca and a cultural destination where we have so many downtown convergences, that’s a great way to look at it.”