By Sidhartha Wakade
Rutledge’s Annual Music in the Park series kicked off last Friday at the TownPark Gazebo with the twangy tunes of Caroline Aiken, a local Blues Grass musician. Stormy weather couldn’t keep the music lovers away and locals still gathered to hear the concert beneath the overcast skies.
Every upcoming Friday at 7 p.m. through August, local musicians will take the gazebo stage, located at 113 Fairplay Street, to perform.
This coming Friday, Doug Deluxe & the Rodeo Clowns will provide an evening of “Western Swing” for the audience to dance to all evening. On Friday, June 21, local favorite Horace Reeves returns to the summer concert series to perform oldies from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
Music has been a central part of Rutledge even before the concert series began, according to Terry Reeves, the owner and founder of Music Matters Entertainment. Reeves began booking acts for the Summer Concert Series in 2014.
“There used to be a sign hanging at the gazebo in Rutledge, and it would say ‘music on Friday nights,’” Reeves said. “It started out as just people coming and doing a little Pickin’ in the Park.”
As the years went on, the focus shifted to booking actual bands to play at the park, Reeves explained. More acts were added each year, until the concert series as it is today was formed. Now the concert draws local artists as well as regional acts.
The concert series has grown enough in recent years that Rutledge is becoming known for it, Reeves explained.
“There’s not a lot going on in Rutledge because it’s such a small town,” she said. “This has grown to be the focal point of our community.”
Local support for the event is strong. The concerts draw many regulars, according to Reeves.
“We have people who come every single week, and they wouldn’t miss it,” she said. “This is something people look forward to all year.”
Reeves also thinks that the concerts are not only a good way to bring visitors to the town, but they also help bring the local community closer.
“It is such a great opportunity for neighbors to get to know each other,” she said. “People who would never get together outside the concert series see each other every week.”
Reeves expects anywhere from 100-400 people to show up every night, depending on the act. The turnout is always solid, but the music and the community is the focus.
“It absolutely brings the community together,” she said.