Summer concert series celebrates 10 years

Cary Ashby • Jun 20, 2018 at 4:00 AM

The annual summer concert series in Norwalk is celebrating its 10th year with performances every Wednesday at Veterans Memorial Lake Park. Many of the musicians have been playing in the series since the beginning.

“It’s been great because my brother Jamie, who owned Castle Music, started the summer concert series,” said Chris Castle, the Gaymont Nursing Center marketing director. “It’s amazing he started this 10 years ago. I always helped him with it, but it was always his baby.

“I think Gaymont was one of the first sponsors that came on board with him, along with Pizza Crazin, which has been on board the entire time.”

The sponsors this year include: Gaymont, Firelands Local (formerly known as Christie Lane Industries or CLI), the Huron County Visitors Bureau, Pizza Crazin, Foghorn Designs, Senior Enrichment Services, Far Around Recording and the Norwalk parks and recreation department.

“It’s really neat now to be in the 10th year. Now that I have my role at Gaymont as marketing director, I stepped back into coordinating the concert series. It’s not like Gaymont deserves any more credit for this series than any of the other sponsors,” Castle said. “We are all in it at the same level, but Gaymont does handle (the booking of) the talent.” 

Norwalk resident and musician Noah Heyman, who owns Far Around Recording, is the sound technician for the concerts. Far Around Recording is located at 24 W. Main St. in downtown Norwalk, which also houses Wellington Music of Norwalk.

“He’s a great audio engineer. He is one of the founding members of the Womack Family Band,” Castle said. 

“I have known Noah since he was about 14 years old. He was always an extremely gifted songwriter. … He was recording himself on a four-track cassette when he was 13 (or) 14 years old. It was already amazing music; you could already tell how brilliant the guy was musically.”

Heyman worked at Castle Music with Jamie Castle.

“That’s the beauty of (the series). It was such an organic thing and it was such a community-based thing in the first place and it’s only become even more so over the years. We have some of the originals who were involved from the very beginning 10 years later,” Castle said. “It’s grown every single year.”

About 300 people attended the first concert of the summer when Chu Dat Frawg performed. Week 2 featured the local duo The Bind.

The concerts start at 6:30 p.m. in the shelter at Veterans Memorial Lake Park nearest the Executive Drive entrance. The event includes a 50/50 raffle, which is drawn at 8.

“The reservoir is the centerpiece of our park and rec system, as far as I am concerned. It’s a pristine backdrop. So you have live music happening in front of this beautiful, natural backdrop that is the Norwalk reservoir — all the trees, all the grassy areas, where you then have senior citizens, toddlers (and) puppy dogs. Everybody is just intermixing, running around in the lawn. The disc golf folks are out there throwing Frisbees,” Castle said.

“It’s just an amazing backdrop for live music,” he added. “It’s nice to see families (who) can bring their children out there and then of course, Gaymont brings our residents out. Those folks wouldn’t have another opportunity to hear live music, to engage with every one of all ages.”

Tonight’s performer is country singer Matt Goodrich, who plays originals and cover tunes.

“He’s been a pretty successful country artist. He’s opened for some big names. He plays a lot of fairs and festivals throughout the state and throughout the region,” Castle said.

On June 27 is Rusty G String, featuring Dave James and Jen Scott Babcock, an acoustic duo. 

“These are two veteran musicians from this area,” said Castle, whose first performance in a bar was partially due to James who worked concrete with his father. “Those guys are fantastic. … Dave is a blues guitarist (and) country/classic-rock vocalist.”

The next concert on July 11 is by The Divots

“The Divots is a fantastic band that plays primarily classic rock (and) rock-n-roll covers, folk, country rock kind of stuff,” Castle said.

Scott Stiert is the performer for the July 18 concert. He recorded his debut CD at The Dirt Sandwich, the studio where Far Around Recording is now located. 

“I engineered that. He recorded the follow-up at Far Around with Noah as the engineer on that,” Castle said. “Scott Stiert has been playing this concert series probably from the first year; he has been there every year. He is a great friend of the musical community here in the Norwalk area.

“For me, Scott Stiert is sort of like Van Morrison meets James Taylor,” he added. “He plays a mean harmonica and he’s a fantastic guitarist.”

Rock guitarist and vocalist Dan Robertson — another long-time performer in the concert series — plays July 25.

“A lot of these guys have been friends of the summer concert series since Day One,” Castle said.

The Heartbeats play the Aug. 1 concert. The band is led by Kevin Obermyer, who has a rotating group of musicians, often including Heyman, Cory Boomer, Cory Webb, Tommy Christian and Tony Schaffer. 

Wrapping up the series is Tandem Blue on Aug. 8. The group performed at the first Imagine Norwalk event in 2014.

Musicians who are interested in performing in the future are encouraged to visit the All Norwalk website, allnorwalk.com, the official home of the concert series, and complete the contact form.

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