Music in the Park

Linda Smith Band to open concert series

Madison Main Street’s ‘Music in the Park'
begins June 10

Music in the Park

• June 10: Linda Smith Band
• July 8: Boscoe France Band
• Aug. 12: Jimmy Davis Band
• Sept. 9: Louisville Crashers

Information: (812) 265-3270

(June 2016) – Lawn chair season is coming to Madison, Ind.’s Broadway Fountain. The Music in the Park Summer Concert Series starts at the Broadway Fountain on June 10, with a performance by the Linda Smith Band. The series is organized by the Madison Main Street Program, with help from many community sponsors.
Smith is no stranger to Madison and has local fans from other performances here. “It was Jane Lorenz who first told me about all the music there in Madison,” Smith said. “Madison is a beautiful historic town with lots of music and very friendly people. Our first performance here was for the Soup, Stew, Chili, and Brew in October. There sure were a lot of fun and great people at that event.”
The Linda Smith fan base that grew in Madison is part of a regional following that includes regular performances in Louisville, Ky., Evansville, Ind., Bloomington, Ind., and Lexington, Ky.
“We have been really blessed to open for Kris Kristofferson and the Kentucky Head Hunters,” she added. “My husband, Doug Smith, introduced me to music and taught me to play guitar. We took off from there.”

Photo provided

Linda Smith will bring her band back to Madison, Ind., in June to open the “Music in the Park” summer concert series. She has performed in Madison before at other festival events.

In addition to Linda and her husband, the band includes drummer Carmen Fisher from Versailles, Ind., Steve Adams on guitar and bass player Brian Sherwood.  
“Carmen is the longest member with us,” Smith said. “She and everyone else in the band sings a wide variety of styles and sounds for all ages that stretch from today to yesteryear. We like to connect to people through our music.”
Madison Main Street Program Director Whitney Wyatt organizes the music series. The Louisvillian took over the program four years ago after working as an event planner in the hotel industry.
“The music series started in 1993 as a way to celebrate the downtown,” said Wyatt. “We wanted to increase the crowd size, so we looked for bands with a regional following. But we still wanted to meet the demand for local musicians.”
Main Street Program organizers didn’t want the extra burden of providing food at the concert series, so they brought in local food vendors. The changes in music and food caused the crowd size to go from 400 to 1,100 people.
“We wanted to keep it simple but wanted to bring in things that people don’t get all the time,” said Wyatt. “We wanted opening acts for 45 minutes, so not to eliminate opportunities for local expression. This is a fun local event, and I really enjoy connecting with the community. People really appreciate the series and that is gratifying.”
One of the goals of the Main Street Program is to bring entertainment downtown, so Wyatt works to keep events as close to Main Street as possible.
“It fosters good relationships when people actually get to hang out downtown, especially if they are outside,” Wyatt added. “There are not many community events in the shopping district. Most are at Bicentennial Park (on the riverfront). The only major events near Main Street are the Old Court Days and Soup, Stew, Chili and Brew. We hope the music series will continue to grow but not too substantially. We are at a point where we like where it is now.”
Madison Main Street Program founding director Kim Nyberg remembers the first Music in the Park celebrations. “In 1993, the Madison Main Street Program started the first Music in the Park,” said Nyberg. “It was a celebration of downtown. It was held in Lytle Park, and the first band was the Ordie Day Trio straight from the Bonnie Belle Riverboat. We had about 75 people in attendance, and the Main Street board danced the Hokey Pokey. What fun.”
From that moment on, the music continued, and Music in the Park grew into an annual series, offering a free family event for the community.
Madison’s long history and commitment to commercial revitalization was recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation when Madison was selected as one of three communities in the country to participate in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Pilot Project in 1977-1980. As the pilot project ended, Madison continued to work on downtown revitalization, and in 1993, the Madison Main Street Program was officially reborn, joining Indiana Main Street and National Main Street. The Madison Main Street Program has been an active commercial district revitalization program since.
Along the way, industries and families supported the concert series, and better bands and bigger audiences followed. The bands are relatively expensive, so sponsors were needed to help. The Madison Courier was one of the first sponsors. Now each of the four concerts has its own title sponsor.
“The event quickly caught on because people wanted to be together in a beautiful setting,” Wyatt said. “This series was intended to be a hometown celebration for neighbors and friends, and I am very proud to be a part of it.”
In addition to the concert series, the Main Street Program promotes economic projects that include successful “Fourth Friday” monthly shopping nights, a Summer Sidewalk Sale, and a strong Holiday Open House Event.
“We are nationally accredited and follow national guidelines,” said Wyatt. “Everything we do is a team effort. Our partners include the City of Madison, Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, VisitMadison Inc., the Madison Area Arts Alliance, Cornerstone Society, Historic Madison Inc., Jefferson County Historical Society, and Jefferson County Industrial Development Corp.”
The organizations and businesses work on redevelopment and beautification projects to attract visitors and locals to the district, as well as attract new residents.
“It is all about collaboration,” Wyatt added. “I enjoy everything we do together – arts, music, business and development.”

• For more information about the Music in the Park Summer Concert Series or the Madison Main Street Program, contact Whitney Wyatt, at (812) 493-4984 or visit: www.MadisonMainStreet.com.

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