Festival Park to host free concerts

Published 8:52 pm Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sundays in the park may just become a staple for downtown Washington traffic this summer as the city teams up with local organizations to host free concerts in Festival Park.

Washington Harbor District Alliance, the City of Washington, Beaufort County Arts Council, Beaufort County Traditional Music Association and the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce have come to together to bring music to the masses with Harmony on the Harbor.

The free concerts are set to begin this Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. First up: G2, a Greek folk music band comprised of the Tourlitis family of Belhaven, a four-piece ensemble utilizing instruments like the dumbek (a Middle Eastern drum), bouzouki and baglama (both traditional Greek stringed instruments).

“I was surprised to find the number of styles of Greek folk music,” said LaVon Drake, who recruited G2 for Sunday’s concert. “Like ours, they have slower, ballad-type songs and melodic, faster songs that you would dance to.”

Drake is charged with filling musical slots during Washington’s Music in the Streets, the once-a-month mini-music festival in downtown Washington. G2 was on a waiting list to play during Music In the Streets and, with little notice, agreed to perform Sunday, but Drake said she’d love to bring many types of music to Festival Park.

“I’m hoping we can do a variety of genres,” Drake said. “If this is successful, I’d love to get different styles (of music) in there each time.”

Harmony on the Harbor sprang from an April Washington Harbor District Alliance board meeting, according to WHDA director Beth Byrd. While Festival Park has been extremely successful as a wedding/private event venue, the desire to see more community events held there spurred Washington City Councilman Doug Mercer to say he’d like to see free concerts on Sundays, according to Byrd. Drake, also present at the meeting, offered to stock the stage.

For now, the free concerts will be offered once a month. If deemed successful, by both city and public standards, more may be offered down the line.

“We’re just in the infancy stages here, but you never know until you try something,” Drake said.