STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For Digital First Media
A hot night with cool jazz kicks off the Abington Art Center Summer Concert Series. The annual event with dancing, kids activities, fresh popcorn, cool drinks, and concessions from a variety of food vendors, features musicians on Thursdays, June 11 through July 16.
Jonathan Frankenberg, the Center’s Special Events Coordinator, thinks the series is a great opportunity for people to see musical acts in a spectacular outdoor setting close to home. He hopes people will enjoy the series, and those who haven’t visited before will learn the amazing things the Center offers.
In addition to the concerts, people will discover that the 27-acre Center features a Sculpture Park and walking trails which are open to the public year-round, exhibitions, programs, classes, and events “designed to make the visual arts a part of your world. We believe art should be engaging, approachable and, above all else, fun,” says their mission statement.
Music and art go hand in hand, Frankenberg said.
“Music is a creative and artistic endeavor, so bringing music to the masses is completely in line with the Center’s mission of providing a cultural campus for the community,” he said.
This year’s series features jazz, folk, funk, rock, and Brazilian, he said.
“We embrace diversity of styles. We want people to discover new things,” he said. “It’s all inter-connected – the early jazz records influenced the bossa nova and samba styles of Brazil which can be heard in funk and rock music.”
This year’s line-up features the Michelle Lordi Jazz Combo, The Ryan Tennis Band, The Smooth Edge Band, The Edge Hill Rounders, Ensemble Novo, and Trombo Piccolo.
Lordi is up first on June 11.
“We’re excited to have Michelle Lordi open our series because she is a local act… a talented singer,” Frankenberg said.
Lordi is a Philadelphia-based jazz singer influenced by Blossom Dearie, Chet Baker & June Christie, The Talking Heads, 70s soft rock, and Radiohead. When she was in her 20s, she fell in love with the songs of the 1930s and 40s. She recently released an album called “Drive.” She’ll be performing songs like “You’re My Thrill,” “If I Only Had a Heart” from “The Wizard of Oz,” and a reimaging of The Cars’ hit “Drive,” Frankenberg said.
Lordi’s band for the night includes guitarist Sonny Troy, who has played with Peggy Lee, Louis Prima’s orchestra, and Frankie Avalon, and saxophonist Larry McKenna, who has played with Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, and Frank Sinatra.
“I played the stage at Abington Art Center last year and I’m looking forward to playing there again because the sound is excellent and the crowd is enthusiastic and receptive to our music,” Lordi said.
Frankenberg knows audiences will enjoy her performance and the others in the series, especially because of the Center’s atmosphere.
“Many of these acts play in venues all around the Philadelphia area,” he said, “but to be able to grab a blanket and park yourself on a hill and just kick back, relax, and hear great music is something to be truly thankful for.”
IF YOU GO
What: Abington Art Center Summer Concert Series
When: Doors open 6 p.m.; performances at 7 p.m. Thursdays, June 11 through July 16.
Where: Abington Art Center, 515 Meetinghouse Road, Jenkintown.
Tickets: Individual shows $5; Series Pass $25; children 12 and younger free (advance tickets available on their website, www.abingtonartcenter.org)
Info.: Call (215) 887-4882 or visit www.abingtonartcenter.org.