After two months’ worth of free weekly shows, this year’s Concert in Park series officially came to end on Sept. 1 with a special two-hour performance by local rock band the Average Joes.
Instead of playing at noon like all previous Concert in the Park events this summer, the band took up residence in front of City Hall around 7 p.m. and performed a selection of classic rock and country hits until the sun went down.
Despite missing their regular drummer John Hickes, the Average Joes presented a solid lineup of local musicians, including John Ham (electric guitar), Gord Medwid (drums), Richard Hickes (percussion and vocals), Karl Bennett (acoustic guitar and vocals), Toni Whalen (acoustic guitar and vocals) and Tracey Smith (bass and vocals).
The Sept. 1 performance was particularly endearing to Smith, better known around town as “Smitty,” who’s been setting up sound equipment for Concert in the Park events, off and on, for the past decade through his company Music Makers Productions.
“This season was really good. The weather was definitely helpful,” said Smith, remarking that this is the first year since he’s been involved that they didn’t have to resort to using an indoor venue. “There could be more people coming out, but that’s just Thompson sometimes, right?”
Fluctuating crowd attendance aside, Smith said the Concert in the Park still serves as a great showcase for local musical talent. Outside of seasoned adult performers like Ham and Bennett, Smith said he was particularly impressed by the young Thompsonites who took to the stage at MacLean Park this summer, a group that includes 13-year-old Isabel Carter and recent RDPC graduate Brendan Rhodes.
“He took no breaks, no breathers,” said Smith, reflecting on Rhodes’s July 28 performance. “He just picks up a water and he’s right back at it.”
But more than anything, Smith is just happy that the Concert in the Park series exists in the first place, since it serves to remind everyone of Thompson’s ability to tap into this local talent.
“It shows that we have a great music scene that is lacking the actual support to the community,” he said. “Because there’s no venue specifically for concerts here in Thompson. We have the Letkemann Theatre … but there’s very limited space.”
Going forward, Smith hopes that the city will follow through on its promise to spruce up the MacLean Park venue with a canopy to make future Concert in the Park events even more appealing to the public.
As for the Average Joes, their next “performance” will take place Sept. 16 at the YWCA, where several members of the band will be strapping on red high heels for the annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser.