Hot summer, cool music

The 2011 Summer Music in the Park concert series drew to a close Sunday evening with the performance of Soca & Reggae Music Upstream in La Cañada’s Memorial Park.

Despite the heat of the day, where temperatures hovered in the upper 90s to low 100s, the concert was well attended and the park was crowded with families lounging in chairs and on blankets.

Susie Goddard and Gary Evans have been attending the music series for six summers.

“We’ve come for so long, we’ve seen other families grow up, from their children starting young to getting older,” Goddard said. “We see [concert] regulars and don’t even know them, but see their families grow.”

Ben and Rachel Sures of Montrose have attended the summer concert series for the past two summers, but introduced their friends Lorraine and Fred Perez to the concerts this summer.

Ben Sures said he enjoys the Neil Diamond tribute band and the soft-rock bands, but added that the concert series could benefit from tribute bands or music genres that are more popular among people in their 20s and 30s.

Sures also said that adding gourmet food trucks would make the summer concert series even better.

Jim Siepler of La Cañada agreed that there should be food concessions at the park.

“[The concert organizers] should have local businesses set up wine and food booths. Everyone brings a picnic, but it would be nice, in case you forgot something, to pick it up at the park,” Siepler said.

The one concession that is a regular at the summer music series is the La Cañada High School Key Club’s root beer float stand. According to club member Angela Kim, the stand this summer has raised approximately $1,300, which is earmarked for a hospital pediatric trauma program.

As the concert series wraps up and marks the end of summer, Jeff Olson, a member of the Parks & Recreation Commission, commented on the success of this summer’s concerts.

“I thought it was very successful. On some nights, the biggest problem is finding parking.”

Although there is no mechanism that tracks attendance at the free concerts, Olson said that the commission’s estimated head count is about 400 people for most Sundays and as many as 600 people on specific nights, like the very popular Neil Diamond tribute night.

Olson invites residents to call the Parks & Recreation Commission, or Carl Alameda, a senior management analyst with the city, to tell the officials what kind of music or specific bands they’d like to hear. The phone number at City Hall is (818) 790-8880.

The Parks & Recreation Commission sifts through musical options and different bands in January and finalizes the summer lineup in April. As many as 100 bands contact the commission, wanting to play at the summer music series.

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