Free Blues Concert series returns with stunning summer lineup

Eleven years ago then Mayor Steve Jazwiec had a vision of bringing diversity and great blues music to Rockford in a free, family-friendly setting on the banks of the Rogue River. He hoped others would appreciate a chance to relax outdoors, hang out with family or friends, and enjoy a free concert by some terrific bands. Entering the eleventh season of live music on stage at Garden Club Park by the Rockford dam, the over 1,000 people that turn up each Tuesday during the ten-week summer season have proved Jazwiec wasn’t wrong. The concerts run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“This year we have our first Grammy-winner,” stated Jazwiec about the line up for 2013. Little Frank & Premiers is among the hot bands on tap for the free entertainment this year. The concerts are offered free of charge because local sponsors have stepped up to help with funding. The series is the Huntington Bank Rogue River Blues Concerts presented by the Rockford Brewing Company in cooperation with the City of Rockford.

Huntington Bank is once again the main sponsor of the series which runs ten weeks beginning Tuesday June 11 with the band Hank Mowrey & The Hawktones.

“Come early and enjoy dinner in one of Rockford’s fine eating establishments and stroll through the wonderful shops,” said Jazwiec. “Then bring a blanket or lawn chairs, and enjoy an evening of wonderful music.” Garden Club Park is located in downtown Rockford north of the Rockford Dam on Bridge Street, directly behind the Squire Street shops.

The series continues June 18 with the Rusty Wright Band, June 25 with the Harper and Midwest Kind, Tuesday July 2 with the Weezil Malone Band. On Tuesday, July 9 enjoy Little Frank & Premiers. Tuesday, July 26 will feature Blue Molly and on July 23 Serita’s Black Rose will finish out the Blues portion of the concerts. The following three Tuesdays will feature bands other than the blues with The Crane Wives on Tuesday, July 30, the band AnDro on August 6 and finally Seth & May on Tuesday, August 13.

Parking can be tricky in downtown Rockford so concert fans can find spots on the old Northland Pontiac lot accessed from Bridge Street entrance drive between Vitale’s and J.T. Stitchery or from Main Street entrance drive north of the Rogue Valley Towers building. A short, pleasant walk north on the White Pine Trail will bring you directly to the park.

Jazwiec said he is happy the series has been so successful, starting as a short season of just four weeks. Due to demand, the series expanded to six weeks, then to eight to the current string of ten Tuesdays in the summer months. Jazwiec said he chose blues as the main music offering. At the time the concerts began, Jazwiec and his wife were organizing the Celtic Festival as an annual event in downtown. “You can only listen to just so much bagpipe music, but there is no such thing as too much blues.”

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