By Penelope Johnson
Oliver’s Music in the Park is thinking big this summer: big bands, big voices, big sound.
In celebration of Canada 150, all Music in the Park performers are larger ensembles.
The Penticton Concert Band, rockers 13 Broken Bones, and the southern country Rob Robertson Band have already attracted big crowds.
In tribute to the “150,” the concert series will feature special guest, the Royal Canadian Air Force Band in August. Ladies with big voices deliver gutsy vocals in several of the concerts this summer.
Live music fans gather every Thursday evening at the Oliver Community band shell. Concerts kick off at 6:30 p.m. and continue until 8 p.m. Admission is by donation.
The evening market on site invites visitors to stroll by for baked goods, fresh fruits and veggies, crafts, and other retail items. A food vendor offers picnic suppers. Lucy Blu and the Blu Boys, a Kelowna band playing jazz, funk, blues, and rockabilly swing, perform Thursday July 27 at the “Feed the Valley” concert.
Besides a donation for the music, audiences are invited to bring an item for the Oliver Food Bank. An initiative by Music in the Park sponsor Valley First, the goal is to encourage the public to remember and support the food bank year-round.
Children and families come out in droves whenever Nankama Drum and Dance is on stage. On August 3, Nankama’s costumed performers will beat out some catchy West African rhythms, interspersed with stories by charismatic leader Bobby Bovenzi. The audience is invited to join in on the djembe drums and rattles, move in simple, Zumba-style dances, or simply tap their toes.
On August 10, the audience “takes off into the wild blue yonder” with the Royal Canadian Air Force Band, all the way from Winnipeg. Says bandmate Sgt. Francois Godere:
“For over 60 years, this professional band has been highly visible throughout the Canadian Forces, instilling national pride in Canadian audiences across the country.”
The RCAF band will delight with a diverse repertoire of rock, pop, country, R&B, and disco, in addition to more traditional band tunes.
The Darlene Ketchum Quartet is back by popular demand on Thursday, August 17, previously appearing in Oliver in 2015. Backed by piano, guitar and drums, Darlene belts out R&B, soul, funk, and gospel in her big soulful voice. Her powerful pipes and dynamic delivery easily fill the outdoor venue and engage the audience.
Toe-tapping party band Uncorked entertains on Thursday August 24 with energetic lead vocalist Lisa Salting mesmerizing the crowd with her earthy voice and bass guitar riffs. Their pop rock repertoire includes Fleetwood Mac, Sheryl Crowe, the Gypsy Kings, Paul Simon, and Patsy Cline.
All concerts are rain-or-shine on Thursdays from 6:30– 8 p.m. at the Oliver Community Stage band shell, 6359 Park Drive. Rain venue is on site at the Oliver Community Centre.
Suggested donation is $5. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Info: OliverCAC@gmail.com 250-498-0183. Presented by the Oliver Community Arts Council.