Northampton Summer Concert Series opens July 18 on the Old Courthouse lawn

Last modified: Thursday, September 18, 2014
The Northampton Summer Concert Series, presented by The Collective Music Group (TCMG), is back for its the third straight year, this time with a new, more prominent downtown location.

Every Friday from July 18 to August 22, concerts will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on the lawn of the Old Courthouse, on the corner of Main and King streets. This year’s artists include local acts such as Lux Deluxe, Appalachian Still and The Snaz, as well as nationally rising acts like The Appleseed Collective and SIRSY.

Up first, on July 18 — The Roger Salloom Band and Matthew Szlachetka.

Salloom, a longtime area musician, plays a cross between blues, roots, Americana, country, and soul. Szlachetka, a New England native, draws influence from veteran rockers like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Neil Young and Elton John, and younger heavyweights such as Ryan Adams. He has shared stages with acts as varied as Chris Isaak, Brandi Carlile, John Waite, Chris Hillman, Cracker, Camper Van Beethoven, Matthew Sweet, David Ryan Harris, Greg Laswell, Johnette Napolitano, Hanson, Fishbone and the English Beat.

Previously, Summer Concert Series shows were held in Pulaski Park. But producer Jamie Kent says the new location has exposure.

“It’s just a much more comfortable listening experience for everyone involved,” Kent said. “Anyone downtown can just swing by and check it out.”

Kent, the founder of the TCMG, said that because Pulaski Park is under the oversight of The Academy of Music, TCMG couldn’t hold concerts at the same time as Academy events due to the noise. As a consequence, one concert last year had to be moved to the Old Courthouse lawn — but Kent said it was a huge success, with an audience three times the usual size.

“That was the first big telltale sign,” said Kent, who fronts his own band, Jamie Kent and The Options.

He added that the Academy’s schedule has also been getting busier, so it made sense to make the full move and establish a new home for the concerts.

This summer, 15 bands will play during the six weeks of the series. “We have an ability to showcase both the great local talent we have here,” Kent said, “as well as the regional and national independent artists who are doing great things throughout the country but may not have a following in the area yet.”

Kent says food will also be available at the new concert site, including Sam’s pizza and Bart’s ice cream. In addition, there will be a small craft fair, with three to five vendors each week, and a new “Kids’ Zone,” which Kent says will include face painting, hula hooping and a variety of games.

“It’s going to be a great, all-inclusive area of the park,” he said.

In case of rain, concerts will be moved inside to The Parlor Room at Signature Sounds, 32 Masonic Street.

For more information on the series, as well as schedule of bands, visit www.collectivemusicconcerts.com.