From TOTS to Chipotle and beyond, the sounds of summer blasted through downtown last weekend as the Friday Night Out concert series began.
The concert series, presented by Virginia Tech’s School of Performing Arts & Cinema and the Town of Blacksburg, is a part of the Summer Arts Festival, now celebrating its 20th year. The site for each concert is Henderson Lawn, located on the corner of North Main Street and College Avenue in downtown Blacksburg, the rain site being Old Dominion Ballroom in Squires Student Center.
“Henderson Lawn is gorgeous,” said Jane Harrison of the School of Performing Arts & Cinema. “People can bring picnics or play with their dogs. Henderson is also the gateway to downtown.” Every Friday will have a different group or artist playing music from a different genre, promising a variety of music.
The summer schedule features everything from bluegrass to Caribbean rock, from Irish folk to R&B, making each show a unique experience.“We’ve got just about everything,” Harrison said. “I tried to get bands that appeal to a larger audience.”
Each concert is free to the public, giving both students and Blacksburg natives an opportunity to have a blast on a budget.
“They’re free; that’s a big draw for everyone,” Harrison said. “You can go to a concert and then go do something else.”
The first Friday Night Out concert featured the music of Surrender Dorothy, a four-man funk rock band that recently performed at Tech’s Wine Festival on June 4.
Several hundreds of people, both students and Blacksburg families, came to be entertained by the band and easily filled up the grassy hill of Henderson Lawn.
The energetic atmosphere buzzed as friends mingled, kids hula-hooped, and people dined on pizza and Italian ice. Among all the summer fun, Surrender Dorothy played a set that featured everything from ‘70’s rock to reinterpretations of top 40 hits. Among the songs heard Friday were a funky versions of the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” and the Commodores’ ever-popular “Brick House.” Surrender Dorothy also played a cover Travie McCoy’s recent hit “Billionaire,” although the band jokingly asked the audience to sing “the G-version” of the chorus in consideration of the children in attendance.
The biggest surprise of the night and the biggest crowd-pleaser came at the end of the show as the band played Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” Instead of the familiar guitar riff at the beginning of the song, however, the band’s saxophone player, Dan Royer, brought in the song with a flute solo. I’ll admit that this was the first time that a woodwind instrument has made me want to jump up and down.
“Playing with these guys, you never know what they’re going to throw at you,” Royer said. “You have to be on your toes.” The night of surprises was far from over, though. As the two guitarists walked through the engaged crowd playing, one of the Hokie stilt-walkers seen before many football games made an appearance at the concert. With the band playing “Enter Sandman” and an orange-and-maroon giant striding through the crowd, it was hard not to love being a Hokie, as evidenced by the crowd that
This Friday’s show will feature the music of Laura Beth & Clover Hollow, an Americana band that released their debut album in December 2010. The band, with an array of talented musicians, backs up the rich voice of Laura Beth Payne. They produce a smooth, vibrant sound that will no doubt entice audiences. The show begins at 6 p.m. this Friday on the Henderson Lawn.
Whether audiences are simply looking for a place to lie in the grass with friends while enjoying music, or a fun night on a budget, Friday Night Out concerts are a great way to begin any weekend. If you are going to spend your Friday night out, this is the place to