A concert series full of life (June 22)

June 19, 2008

I love to tell people about the Ivory Perry Park summer concert series.  It’s a small one — only three dates — at a relatively obscure park. In fact, the first time we went a couple of years ago, we had a devil of a time finding it because our map didn’t note that the name had changed from Visitation Park several years earlier.  That’s kind of the story of the park in a nutshell:  overlooked and forgotten.  But that changed half a decade ago, when a young boy was killed there by stray dogs.  The tragic event focused the neighborhood and its churches on turning the 10-acre park into a nice, safe place, just like what other, less-forgotten parts of the city enjoy.

Their dedication paid off, both in the park and playground and in the concert series.  Its organizers had ins with some of the city and region’s best musicians, and they’ve established a rapport with the audience that’s unlike anything you’ll find at the bigger venues.  The three Sunday concert dates (June 22, July 27 and August 24) feature world-class musicians:  Hamiet Bluett plays his baritone sax this week, Anita Jackson sings next month, and Kim Massie and Charles Glenn round out the summer in August.  This is one of the most kid-friendly free outdoor concerts in the city, by design.  The organizers bring in Emmy-winning African-American storyteller Bobby Norfolk (well worth hearing for kids and adults both) and other entertainment like Frisbees and hula hoops.  The playground they erected with proceeds from previous years’ concerts stands nearby, ready for action.

The music goes from 6 to 8 p.m.  There’s a food vendor grilling on site, and Fitz’s sells root beer from kegs (glass bottles aren’t allowed for Fitz’s or for you, although before we knew about that ban we brought wine and were allowed to pour it as long as the bottle stayed in our bag).  Picnics are welcome, but unless you’re one of the first ones there you’ll have to set up camp on the grass, because the few picnic tables get snapped up fast.

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