Best Bets: Concerts on The Green ready to groove Dover

Local country band Indian River, formerly known as the Clifford Keith Band, will perform during Dover’s Concerts on The Green Series on Aug. 8. (Submitted photo_

A Dover tradition that brings family and friends together for an evening of free music and fun continues this month as the 43rd annual Concerts on The Green series kicks off Thursday with local Irish band Celtic Harvest.

The series continues for 14 weeks on Dover’s historic Green every Thursday night except July 4 starting at 7, bringing area residents an eclectic mix of musical artists playing a variety of different genres, from rock to jazz and from blues to oldies with stops in Caribbean and steel drums and even ukulele music in between.

Sherwanda Rachel-Speaks, recreation specialist for the city of Dover Parks and Recreation, who has been scheduling the acts for about the last 15 years, says a mix of different music is the key.

“We realize we have a diverse community here in Dover so we try to schedule a diverse group of artists who play a variety of different kinds of music,” she said.

While getting a diversity of bands is a priority for Ms. Rachel-Speaks, she also likes to book some of the more popular groups year after year.

“There are bands like The Honeycombs and The Reunion Band who always draw big crowds year after year. We know our clientele loves them so we try to schedule them every year if we can,” she said.

The Honeycombs, with a mix of oldies and showmanship, will perform June 27 this year, while Reunion, who play a variety of different music, will play Aug. 29.

One band new to the mix is country group Indian River, formerly the Clifford Keith Band, who will play the big stage on Aug. 8.

“For some reason we always have a difficult time booking a local country act believe it or not,” Ms. Rachel-Speaks said.

“I found them by calling around to a few different bars asking who would they recommend. So we’re excited to have them this year.”

Mr. Keith is equally pumped up to play The Green this summer.

“We are excited to be a part of the Concerts on the Green series in Dover this year. We just came off a trip to Nashville and released a brand new EP titled “Currents.” It’s a great release that is filled with songs that come from our hearts. We always feel at home when we play shows in Delaware and the coastal country summers here set a great backdrop for any outdoor venue,” he said.

“We are currently scheduled to release two brand new singles over the summer so we are looking forward to sharing new music with the crowd on The Green.”

The Dover music series has gotten so popular that Ms. Rachel-Speaks says she constantly hears from artists looking to perform.

“I get calls all of the time, especially now that the schedule is out. One time I got a call from a guy way out west who was traveling through and wanted to perform,” she said.

“But we just don’t have the funding or the accommodations for something like that. We prefer to keep things local.”

She said by featuring local bands, that keeps attendance high as they draw the artists’ fans, family members and friends.

Craig Coffield of the local blues band Bad Avenue, said he looks forward to playing The Green every year.

“We love playing for the local crowd that takes advantage of the concerts during the summer,” said Mr. Coffield, whose band will play The Green on July 25.

“It’s fun seeing multiple generations of families come out to enjoy live music with grandparents and grandchildren dancing.”

That family aspect is what Ms. Rachel-Speaks also likes the most about the long-running series.

“Residents look forward to it every year,” she said.

“Families will come out and put out a blanket and have dinner there and enjoy the music. I really enjoy that component of it.”

She said she also relishes in seeing familiar faces every year but also likes that the series is growing with new folks as the word spreads.

Wall of Cain, made up of, from left, Chris Kirby, Chris Leslie and Natham Ames, will perform at Dover’s Concerts on The Green in June. (Submitted photo)

Chris Kirby, lead singer of local rock band Wall of Cain, loves the atmosphere that The Green gives off. His band will perform June 6.

“It’s a great outdoor venue that we’re very proud to be a part of. It’s one of those shows that allows us to play for folks that may not see us otherwise,” he said.

“It’s a very relaxed venue where you can bring a lawn chair and listen to some great music. I personally enjoy the setting being surrounded by a canopy of trees and historic buildings.”

Each year, one week of the series sees no music and turns the stage over to Reptile World, with a collection of the creepy and slimy that are a big hit.

“The kids really enjoy it,” Ms. Rachel-Speaks said of the organization from Bowie, Maryland.

“With no local zoo around here, this is always a neat opportunity that is educational and just a different thing to do for families.”

This year, Reptile World rolls in on July 18.

As always, guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to each show. Parking is available around The Green and nearby on Legislative Mall.

In case of inclement weather, call the Weather Line at (302) 736-7155. Relocated events are held at the John W. Pitts Recreation Center in Schutte Park.

Firefly fodder

Another big musical event is quickly approaching as the Firefly Music Festival is set for June 21-23 at the Woodlands of Dover.

This year the culinary experience will be kicked up a notch with the introduction of The Woodlands Supper Club.

The supper club will feature a gourmet tasting menu by Philadelphia chef Alex Garfinkel of Balboa Catering, complete with Dogfish Head Brewery beer and spirit pairings.

Starting at 5 p.m. Friday, June 21 and 6 p.m. Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 22, the menu includes yakatori barbecued baby Jersey squid, sweet pea ravioli, crisp Moulard duck breast, wagyu coullette steak, strawberry, rhubarb and lilac tea and stone fruit and olive oil cake.

Each sitting is $99 and can be purchased at fireflyfestival.com.

For fans of classic television, the Saved By The Max diner will conjure up memories of the show “Saved by the Bell.”

The eatery will serve burgers, fries, and other diner options but more importantly be styled after the The Max diner on the show and have other “Saved By the Bell” attractions perfect for taking those all-important selfies.

The food options will include 44 vendors with everything from cheese steaks to grilled cheese, chicken to lobster and pretzels to tacos.

Also this week, we got a peek at the times the acts will play.

This year’s musical lineup includes headliners Panic at the Disco! at 11 p.m. on Friday, June 21, rapper Travis Scott at 11:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 22 and rapper Post Malone on Sunday, June 23 at 9:30 p.m.

Other acts Friday include Tyler, The Creator at 8:30 p.m. on the Main Stage, Zedd at 12:30 a.m. on the new Prism stage, Louis The Child at 9:45 p.m. in The Prism, Awolnation at 6 p.m. on the Main Stage, Courtney Barnett at 7:45 p.m. on The Lawn Stage, X Ambassadors at 9:30 p.m. on The Lawn and TLC at 4 p.m. on the Main Stage.

Saturday sees Kygo at 12:30 a.m. in the Prism, Death Cab for Cutie at 9 p.m. on the Main Stage, Passion Pit at 12:30 a.m. on The Lawn, Brockhampton at 9:45 p.m. in The Prism, Young the Giant at 10 p.m on The Lawn, Alison Wonderland at 8:15 in The Prism and Dashboard Confessional at 7:45 p.m. on The Lawn.

Sunday’s schedule includes Vampire Weekend at 7 p.m. on the Main Stage, DJ Snake at 10:45 p.m. in The Prism, Griz at 8:15 p.m. in The Prism, Walk the Moon at 8:15 p.m. on The Lawn, Lykke Li at on the Main Stage and Gucci Mane at 6:45 p.m. in The Prism.

General admission weekend passes are $319, VIP is $699, Super VIP is $2,499 and Super Duper VIP is $7,199.

Single-day general admission passes are $129 with VIP $269.For tickets and more information, visit FireflyFestival.com.

Strawberry Festival

On Saturday, the Delaware Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers will hold their 10th annual YF&R Strawberry Festival at Bobola Farm and Florist, 5268 Forrest Ave. in Dover. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A $5 wristband allows unlimited Fun Zone access, which includes live music by Captain Mike, a bounce house, petting zoo, barrel cart rides, face painting and more games than ever for the kids.

New this year is a wagon ride to the strawberry patch, the Delaware Farm Bureau Foundation’s mobile Ag Lab and an antique tractor to view.

Concessions include fresh-smoked pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs and chips with homemade strawberry shortcake and strawberry ice cream for dessert along with U-pick strawberries.

Proceeds from the day goes into YF&R’s general fund that promotes leadership training, benefits community assistance, provides scholarships, and supports the FFA and 4-H through the Livestock Auction at the Delaware State Fair.

For more information on Delaware Farm Bureau or the Young Farmers & Ranchers organizations, visit www.defb.org, or follow the YF&R on Facebook.

Crab, Shorebird Festival

Also Saturday, Milton’s Chamber of Commerce partners with Prime Hook National Wildlife Rescue to bring to town the Horseshoe Crab and Shorebird Festival with volunteer help from the Milton Historical Society.

This free, and family-friendly festival celebrates horseshoe crabs, shorebirds, and other natural resources while encouraging citizen awareness and participation in wildlife-dependent recreation.

Activities occur at the Milton Municipal Park and Prime Hook NWR where each will be offering choices from art to science and nature education. Milton Municipal Park will have exhibits from environmental organizations, vendors, crafts, food, and entertainment.

Prime Hook NWR will feature opportunities for visitors to get outside and connect with nature including hikes, a kayak trip, videos, and a horseshoe crab touch tank.

A free bus will transport visitors back and forth between the two locations.

The event runs Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.. For more information, visit https://www.historicmilton.com/event/horseshoe-crab-shorebird-festival/.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the live-action version of “Aladdin” with Will Smith and the horror film “Brightburn.”

There is nothing of note being released next week on DVD or download.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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