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The Downtown Beats & Eats music series kicks off it sixth season with the same emphasis on local and regional music acts but with a few minor differences in concert time and management.
The series continues at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park on Saturdays in September and October, but concert times have been moved to a bit later in the day, now running from 4 to 8 p.m. Concert admission is free.
“One of the main reasons for the time change is the weather,” said Will Robl, event chairman. It can still be very hot in September.
Another reason for the change is because young families have busy calendars on Saturdays.
“We received overwhelming feedback that being held on late Saturday afternoons would be more convenient schedule-wise,” said Kellianne Davis, downtown business specialist. “Families have multiple responsibilities on Saturdays.”
Robl added that the new time also aligns itself better with the demand for the food trucks that will be on-site during the concerts.
The 2019 series will feature Street Revival and Four Founders on Sept. 14; TripleWide and Signal Fire on Sept. 28; The Oatmeal Conspiracy and Fireside Collective on Oct. 12; and Balter Brothers and Boom Unit Brass Band on Oct. 26.
The Sept. 14 and Oct. 26 concerts will be followed by movies shown on the Whirligig Park lawn.
“These will be two films that are targeted toward a more adult audience,” Davis said. “These will be action movies and cult classics.”
3 Stars Kettle Corn will be at the venue on evenings featuring movies. The series organizing committee hopes to add movies to each concert date in coming seasons.
This year’s music series features some new acts and some old favorites. Neither band playing on Sept. 14 has performed before at Downtown Beats & Eats. Street Revival, previously known as Easy Street, hails from Wilson and plays contemporary country music. Four Founders is from Raleigh and plays self-described “swampy, get-down tunes to keep your feet tapping.”
Sept. 28 features Downtown Beats & Eats favorite TripleWide playing its collection of funk/rock/blues tunes and the reggae band Signal Fire, out of Wilmington, that is returning for its third time.
“We try keep to some diversity in the concert lineup,” Robl said. “We are trying to appeal to a younger demographic than the Gig in the Park concert series.”
“And this is a co-headlining event, a double billing,” Robl added. “These are not opening and closing bands. They are local and regional. We want to be able to keep local connection as long as we can, but in the last couple of years we’ve expanded to include groups from Asheville to Wilmington.”
Davis noted that the series has reached a milestone after five successful seasons under its belt.
“Our thought is after five rookie seasons that maybe we’ve established ourselves,” Davis said. “We want people to anticipate those concert dates before they are even announced.”
This season marks the first year of new event management, transitioning to coordination by Gig360 Young Professionals, a group that falls under the umbrella of the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. Gig360 is a “social organization for community-minded young professionals who are dedicated to sustaining the whirligig park, networking with peers and growing a culture of young living in Wilson.”
“The Downtown Beats & Eats committee used to fall under the Wilson Downtown Corporation, but is now under Gig360,” Davis said. “Gig360 members really helped with the band selection this year. We came up with a ballot process and a band preview reel, and the group voted on the bands they wanted.”
Wilson Energy is the presenting sponsor for the 2019 season and organizers are very excited about the partnership.
“Wilson Energy will be underwriting the wristband charge of $1, so you no longer have to purchase a ticket in order to buy beer or wine,” Davis said.
‘They will also provide cell phone charging stations and bring giveaway items.”
Sponsors will also have vendors displays.
Plan to go?
Downtown Beats & Eats free concert series is 4-8 p.m. at Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park.
Sept. 14: Street Revival & Four Founders
Sept. 28: TripleWide & Signal Fire
Oct. 12: The Oatmeal Conspiracy & Fireside Collective
Oct. 26: Balter Brothers & Boom Unit Brass Band