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Annual Summer Concert Series to begin June 1

The Central Arizona Concert Band performs for the crowd at the courthouse plaza as part of the Prescott Summer Concert Series. (Courier file)

The Central Arizona Concert Band performs for the crowd at the courthouse plaza as part of the Prescott Summer Concert Series. (Courier file)

PRESCOTT - A rise in expenses and a tight city budget notwithstanding, Summer Concert Series organizer Becky Karcie stresses that the show will go on again this summer.

On Friday, June 1, the City of Prescott will kick off the concert series that annually brings thousands of music lovers to the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza on summer evenings.

Throughout June, July, August, and part of September, a variety of local and out-of-town bands will provide music for the free concerts that run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. most Tuesdays, Wednesdays (movies and clogging), Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

In all, the concert series will provide more than 50 nights of entertainment on the courthouse plaza. Karcie, the city's special events manager, says the entertainment value for locals and tourists alike has been significant.

"It's huge," she said this week. "Every year, it grows. When we first started, we were getting a couple hundred people. Now, it's 500 to 1,500."

Even so, Karcie allowed that money matters have put a bit of a crimp in the series this year.

While the bands previously received a "stipend" of $40 to $60 per member, Karcie said the city eliminated the payment this year.

In its place, the city is asking the audience to make a donation for the bands. Karcie said a donation jar would be on hand during the nights' performances to encourage the concertgoers to contribute.

Karcie attributed the change, in part, to the fact that the city pays about $13,000 over the summer to cover the sound system at the concerts - a cost that was new to the series this past summer.

To ensure that all of the bands will have consistent sound, Karcie said the city opted for the sound system, and, in turn, decided to discontinue the approximately $6,000 total cost for the band stipends.

"We asked the bands if they would partner with us," Karcie said, adding that most bands agreed to play, free of charge.

"The bands have been very gracious," Karcie said. Out of about 30 regular performers, she said only a couple could not return this year because of the loss of the stipend.

Karcie hopes that the contributions from the audience will make up for or exceed the amount of the stipends. She also was optimistic that the city could

bring the band stipends back next summer. "We're hoping this will be a one-year thing," she said.

Generally, the series devotes Tuesdays to jazz, while Wednesdays alternate between cloggers and a new "Movie in the Park" event. Thursdays will feature the Prescott's Karaoke Idol, with the Central Arizona Band rotating in on the third Thursdays of the month. Fridays and Saturdays will feature a variety of music genres.

The series will kick off with Southern Flight, a country/southern rock band on June 1, and Crossfire, a rock/soul/southern rock band on June 2.

Karcie noted that the city's first Prescott Karaoke Idol competition in 2010 featured local singer Drew Ryniewicz, who went on to compete on the X Factor television series.

"Drew was our first-ever Prescott Idol winner," Karcie said.

Along with providing entertainment for local residents, Karcie said the goal of the Summer Concert Series also includes bringing more people to the downtown area.

"It's an enhancement to the downtown," Karcie said. "It creates an atmosphere."

And she encourages people who frequent the free concerts to patronize the local businesses.

"Get out there and support the local restaurants and gift shops," Karcie said. "Take a walk; get your food to go and have a picnic on the courthouse while you listen."

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