CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ten years ago, a group of city leaders began gathering with the idea to create a summer music series that would add to Charleston's night life.
Today, Live on the Levee has become a centerpiece of Charleston's summer, with free weekly Friday night concerts at Haddad Riverfront Park that now are so popular, other events have requested inclusion – including the West Virginia Special Olympics and the Boy Scout Jamboree.
Mayor Danny Jones even persuaded his high school class, planning its summer reunion, to schedule it during a weekend when participants could enjoy the free concert series.
"I'm not saying which reunion it is," the mayor joked at a morning press conference to announce the lineup for the series that kicks off May 24. But his class agreed, and the reunion is scheduled for the weekend of June 28, when the popular Esquires will perform.
The series began with the city's financial support, but has been put in the hands of generous sponsors, said Jim Strawn, who serves as emcee each week and has helped to gather sponsors over the series' 10 years.
Top sponsors include the Moses Auto Group, Brewer Co. and Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, but a total of 36 contribute funds to make the series possible, Strawn said.
City Manager David Molgaard noted the city's amenities have kept pace with the event. Haddad Riverfront Park has added an awning, special lighting, handrails and this year, added boat dock space to accommodate visitors, he said.
Adam Harris, the Mountain Stage producer who works to schedule Live on the Levee, said this year's lineup includes national, regional and local bands.
"We get requests from all over the country," he said. "And we reviewed more than 100 submissions. We only get to say yes to about 30 of them."
He noted the series will welcome West Virginia's own Kathy Mattea June 21 for the state's sesquicentennial, which also happens to be Mattea's birthday. The summer schedule also includes "American Idol" winner for Season 8, sacred steel gospel group the Campbell Brothers and roots singer-songwriter Edwin McCain.
The full schedule follows:
May 24: VooDoo Katz, 600 lbs. of Sin
May 31: Toothless Ruth, Relative Obscurity
June 7: Mother's Nature
June 14: Root Bound, Juicy
June 21: Kathy Mattea
June 28: The Esquires, Dugan Carter & Full Flavor
July 5: The Recipe, The Boatmen
July 12: Kris Allen, Ryan Kennedy Trio
July 19: Butch Miles, Boy Scout Jamboree Jazz
July 26: Campbell Brothers, Carpenter Ants
Aug. 2: High Voltage, Information
Aug. 9: Blues DuJour, Rubber Soul
Aug. 16: Edwin McCain, Chaz Humley & The Effects
Aug. 23: Putnam County Pickers, Ryan Cain & The Ables
Aug. 30: Acoustic Syndicate, Comparsa
Contact writer Monica Orosz at mon...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4830.
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