Woodbridge expands concert schedule with Country Sundays

Staff Writer

While winter walloped the region in recent months, Woodbridge officials were laying the groundwork for residents to enjoy warm nights under the stars with live music.

Building on the momentum of last year, when the township offered enough free concerts to keep music lovers busy nearly every weeknight, Woodbridge will add yet another night to its weekly offerings: Country Sundays.

“We’re a little extreme,” Mayor John McCormac said of the ever-expanding concert calendar. “They’re so popular that it just encourages us to do more.”

Spanning a variety of musical styles, the summer schedule — consisting of 49 shows — kicks off June 18 with the Tim Gillis Band commencing Local Band Thursdays.

The 11 concerts in the Thursday night series — all held at 7:30 p.m. at Parker Press Park, 400 Rahway Ave. — feature bands with local ties. Some have members who hail from Woodbridge; others are familiar from performing around town, Mc- Cormac said.

Country Sundays, the newest addition to the concert lineup, will feature Southern sounds — from Ellen Jewell on July 12 to Girls, Guns and Glory on Aug. 30. Notable shows include “A Tribute to Patsy Cline” on Aug. 9.

“This year, we got really crazy, and we added eight Country Sunday bands,” the mayor said. The country acts will take the stage at 6 p.m. outside the Woodbridge Community Center at 600 Main St.

Mondays hearken back to the roots of the concert series, which launched in 1999. The weekly concerts go back in time with doo-wop acts — many of them nationally known — from the ’50s and ’60s.

This year’s Monday Summer Concert Series will welcome back The Duprees as its first act on June 29. With chart-climbers like “You Belong To Me,” the singing group is one reason Mondays are crowd pleasers.

“It’s our most popular night,” McCormac said.

Other prominent performers slated for Monday nights include The Happenings, who cranked out hits like “See You in September” and “Go Away Little Girl,” on July 13; The Brooklyn Bridge, who backed the late Johnny Maestro on songs like “Worst That Could Happen,” on July 20; and The 1910 Fruitgum Company, with sing-along favorites like “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy,” on Aug. 10.

Tuesday Tribute Bands also provide a blast from the past, paying homage to sounds of the ’60s and ’70s. Attendees can rock out to audio doppelgangers of their favorite bands and musicians, such as Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, the Beatles, Rolling Stones and others.

The oldies acts and tribute bands tend to bring in the largest crowds.

“Mondays and Tuesdays get thousands per show,” McCormac said.

Each consisting of a 10-week run begin- ning in late June, the Monday and Tuesday night series are held at 7:30 p.m. on the lawn at Woodbridge High School, 1 Samuel Lupo Place.

Woodbridge Wednesdays offer an eclectic mix of artists, with a sampling of solo performers and bands filling out the 11- week bill. The shows begin at 7:30 p.m. at Parker Press Park.

Food vendors will offer summertime staples like hot dogs, barbecue and Italian ice at all summer concerts.

In addition, each night of the week features a different township business selling beer and wine. Mondays feature The Shannon Rose Irish Pub; Tuesdays, Miller’s Ale House; Wednesdays, J.J. Bitting Brewing Co.; Thursdays, Moby Dick’s; and Sundays, Big Shots Sports Club.

“That gives them a chance to make some money,” McCormac said. “It works out very nice.”

Most costs associated with the concerts are covered by corporate sponsors, the mayor said.

For more information on the concert series, visit www.twp.woodbridge.nj.us or call 732-596-4047.