Summer Nights is back for its third consecutive year and will see a whole range of musicians and entertainers take to the Central Park stage every Saturday night throughout July and August.
Organizer Elvin Hedden, also a member of The Good Times Band, explained that there will be live music or entertainment in the park every Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., with an open stage to begin with.
For the first half an hour, the stage at the park in lake Cowichan will be ‘open’ with any local artist or entertainer encouraged to come on down and strut their stuff.
“Anyone can come on down and put on a show,” said Hedden. “They can tell a joke, sing, dance, whatever they want. I will have a CD burner that they can use to sing to a track if they wish, although it all has to be family appropriate material of course.”
From 6:30 p.m. onwards, an artist or group will perform for the next two hours, with some old and new faces set to take to the stage this time around. The 2014 lineup is as follows:
July 5: Country and Western performer Terry Brennan
July 12: Jan Matthews in Overdrive
July 19: Mary Egan and Ron Ingram
July 26: Unified Five / Balaam’s Donkey
August 2: Mazimba Marimba
August 9: Duncan Concert Band / Magician Darren Polkinghorn
August 16: Ray Harvey / Jack Gunderson
August 23: Sing Band / New Leaves
August 30: Open Mike / Jan Matthews in Overdrive / Belly Dance Group
“The last night is going to be really interesting,” said Hedden. “We are hoping to get some of the young performers who performed the Friday night of Lake Days to come out again as they were terrific, and the belly dance group is new this year.”
Also new to the Summer Nights stage this year is Brennan, Balaam’s Donkey, Mazimba Marimba and Ray Harvey and Jack Gunderson.
Hedden and the Summer Nights Committee have raised $1,800 this year in sponsorship money which they are extremely grateful for.
“We pay our performers $100 and that will cover that. We try not to go to the same businesses for sponsorship all the time. We’ve only been paying the performers the last two years as the first year was all volunteer, so last year we decided to start paying the performers $100 an hour.”
Hedden believes that is great value for money with some excellent entertainment already lined up.
“The average rate for a musician is $300 an hour. When I did all the bookings they were all said that this is their livelihood and what they love to do but they did say it would be nice to get a little something to cover the cost and expenses.”
Sponsors for this year’s Summer Nights are Pringles Insurance Duncan, CVRD Areas F and I, Darling Tire, Royal Bank of Canada, Bell’s Custom Flooring, Lake Cowichan Curves, Built 2 Last Construction and Cowichan Valley Arts Council.
Tim Hortons is also providing 10 packets of coffee each night as well as Timbits.
“Pat Weaver and Ian Morrison at the CVRD have been great with their sponsorship,” said Hedden. “There will be a 50/50 draw each night and all the not-for-profit groups will be going round with cans, looking for donations. We’ll also sell popcorn and pop and all the donations and profits will go to the not-for-profit groups.”
This year’s NFP groups at Summer Nights are CICV Radio, the Seniors’ Centre, Kaatza Historical Society, Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue and the Kaatza Arts Group.
“Generally the audience has gotten bigger every year,” said Hedden. “It all depends on the timing and the weather but an artist will go out and perform even if there is just one person sitting in the audience. That’s the way performers are.
“Our goal when we started was to give an opportunity to young performers to come out and perform. It was also to draw people into the community from places like Honeymoon Bay, Duncan and all over the Island. And of course to give the NFP groups some money.
“The best thing about the evenings and my favourite thing is looking into the audience, seeing people participate, smile and enjoy themselves,” said Hedden.”
Any other NFP groups interested in becoming involved with Summer Nights are encouraged to contact Hedden at 250-749-6379 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.