Concerts on the Creek: Sylva’s summer tradition returns to Bridge Park PavilionWritten by Colby Dunn
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You know it’s summer in Sylva when Concerts on the Creek gets going, bringing local and regional music and family fun to Bridge Park Pavilion every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
This year, local favorites the Rye Holler Boys will get the season going with a performance on May 27.
They’ll be followed on the outdoor stage in the coming weeks by other popular local bands such as the Freight Hoppers, the Elderly Brothers and Balsam Range, as well as regional talent Big House Radio. Big House walked away with the top prize at WNC Magazine’s Last Band Standing battle of the bands style competition, and they’ll stop off in Sylva in mid-August.
Concerts on the Creek got its start in 2009, so concertgoers will be welcomed back to the park for the third year of free music this summer.
“We started Concerts on the Creek three years ago through an Appalachian Regional Commission Grant,” said Julie Spiro, executive director of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. It was the chamber who started the concerts, but when they proved popular with the public, the series started to grow from there.
“It was very well received and the locals as well as visitors really enjoyed it so we thought we’d expand on that and invite three other partners to help us produce the concert series,” said Spiro
These days, the chamber teams up with Jackson County Parks and Recreation and the Town of Sylva to produce the programs.
But, said Spiro, the free music is just the impetus to get people out and about. It’s the music along with the restaurants and shops in downtown Sylva that really create a festive, summer atmosphere.
“We hope both locals and visitors will stimulate the economy by shopping and dining out before the free concerts,” said Spiro. Part of the central idea behind the series is to give people a venue for getting out on the town, a gift to both natives and tourists and a chance to kick back with talented artists and support local businesses, all at once.
Marne Harris is a Sylva resident who frequents the concerts every summer, and she appreciates them as a piece of fun and relaxation that showcases the town’s mountain charm.
“They are a time for the community to reconnect, catch up with friends and to celebrate our awesome, beautiful town tucked in the mountains, all the while getting to enjoy some great local music and dancing,” said Harris.
One of her favorite aspects of the events, she said, is watching the hodgepodge of otherwise-unconnected music lovers come together. Harris and her husband have young children who, she said, take full advantage of the park’s open space, but they’re surrounded by older folks, students, young music aficionados and, of course, other families.
Of course, Sylva is well known in the region for its vibrant music scene, which mixes the traditional bluegrass acts that find their roots in these mountains, with more contemporary and underground acts that make the circuit of local venues in town. There’s even a metal band from Cherokee the jaunts over to play every now and again. So in Sylva, it’s not hard to find a range of listeners for the talent the series has to offer.
This summer, the town will be treated to 15 weeks of beautiful music against an equally stunning mountain backdrop, and all you need is a lawn chair and a listening ear.
May 27: Rye Holler Boys
June 3: John Luke Carter
June 10: Buchanan Boys
June 17: Mountain Faith
June 24: Johnny Floor
& the Wrong Crowd
July 1: The Elderly Brothers
July 8: Sundown
July 15: The Wild Hog Band
July 22: Josh Fields Band
July 29: The Freight Hoppers
Aug. 5: Balsam Range
Aug.12: Big House Radio
Aug. 19: Johnny Webb Band
Aug. 26: Hurricane Creek
Sept. 2: Mountain Faith Youth Jam