Sizzling Sounds of Summer Bands

Kirt Ramirez

With the children out of school and more hours of daylight, many cities provide outdoor summer concerts for the public to enjoy, funded through a combination of sponsors and sources, but free to patrons.

Residents come together, bring picnic items, sit on folding chairs and listen to the sounds of music during the June, July and August events – and sometimes dance.

Live performances can range from rock ‘n’ roll to jazz, popular to march styles.

  • Seal Beach has the “Concert at the Pier Series” Wednesdays at 6 p.m. featuring various bands.
  • Cypress has the “Summer Concerts on the Green” in the Civic Center’s grassy area Saturdays 6 to 8 p.m., including a Neil Diamond Tribute Aug. 4.
  • Lakewood showcases the “Summer Concerts in the Park” Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m. at Del Valle Park, near Woodruff Avenue and Arbor Road.
  • Los Alamitos has the “Music & Movies Event Series” Saturday July 14 and 28 at 6:30 p.m. with Latin-style performances by La Sirena and local cover band Sugar Lips.
  • And Long Beach provides its very own band; The Long Beach Municipal Band, through the “Sizzling Sounds of Summer” concerts.

“I think the Long Beach Municipal Band is one of the best things about Long Beach,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “At 109 years, it is the longest running municipal band in the country and provides a chance for neighbors and families to gather for relaxing evenings of picnicking, entertainment and great music.”

The historic band, conducted by Larry Curtis, will perform in various parks throughout Long Beach. All concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. and every week will focus on a different theme, performed by professional musicians and talented vocalists. The concerts will last through Aug. 3.

  • Tuesdays July 10 through 24 the band will play at Bluff Park.
  • Tuesday July 31 will be at Ramona Park.
  • Wednesdays until August 1 will be at Los Cerritos Park.
  • Thursdays until August 2 will take place at Marine Stadium.
  • And Fridays until Aug. 3 the band will perform at El Dorado Park West.

“The old-fashioned concert in the park is one of the finest family entertainment experiences available,” Curtis said in a statement. “Many who attend the concerts bring picnic dinners and blankets or lawn chairs. It’s a very festive atmosphere.”

Los Alamitos residents Mike and Cathie Salai relish the band with their little black dog at the El Dorado Park location at Studebaker Road and Willow Street.

“It’s wonderful,” Cathie said. “We’ve been coming for 30 years.”

The Salais enjoyed a circus theme June 29 as joyful sounds of Barnum & Bailey marches and others blared through the loudspeakers.

“They do a wonderful job,” she added. “You can bring your dog; you can bring your dinner and visit with friends.”

Long Beach residents Gerald and Veronica Morris also visit the El Dorado Park location.

“I loved everything,” Veronica said of the performances. “It’s always nice.”

Larry Morefield has been going to the concerts for two years.

“They’re all extremely talented musicians,” said Morefield, a Long Beach resident. “They do quite a variety of performances.”

With weeks one and two of the concert series already gone, week three (July 8 through 14) will focus on “A Musical Journey,” highlighting various cultures with music from around the world. Singer Meloney Collins will lend her talents.

Week four will feature “Southern Harmonies,” music inspired by the coming together of French, African and Spanish traditions from which Creole and Cajun cultures emerged. Vocalist Julie Ragins will close the evening of American originals.

In week five, “Off Broadway” will showcase songs from Broadway musicals. Tony Galla will entertain along with The Studio Band.

The “Latin Heat” season finale in week six will feature Latin music. Singer Nicole Kubis will join The Studio Band that evening.

The paid Long Beach Municipal Band moves around the city with a stage that is set up by staff at every location. Audio engineers ensure the sound is just right and others take part in the production as well. This all costs money.

Jane Grobaty, community information officer for the Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine, explained the financial aspect through email.

“The Long Beach Municipal Band members are paid city employees,” she said. “Each concert costs approximately $15,000. The six-week series will cost approximately $360,000.”

The funding sources include $50,000 from the Port of Long Beach, $50,000 from the Energy Resources Department, $50,000 from Environmental Services, $65,000 from the Tidelands Fund, $66,000 from the Special Advertising and Promotions Fund and $79,000 from fundraising such as “pass the bucket” collections.


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