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The Rockin’ Rockers Kick Off Summer Music Series in Bellefonte

This story appears in the June 3-9 edition of The Centre County Gazette.

After a touch and go kind of season in 2020, the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association and its “Summer Sounds from the Gazebo” series in Bellefonte is in full swing in 2021.

The full slate of Sunday live events kicks off Sunday with classic rock power trio The Rockin’ Rockers in Talleyrand Park. The music begins at 7 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the fun will move to 128 W. Howard St., inside Trinity Methodist Church.

“The Rockin’ Rockers are excited to kick off the 2021 season of ‘Summer Sounds from the Gazebo’,” drummer Bernie Oravec said. “We are scheduled to play nearly 40 shows this summer throughout Central Pennsylvania. This will be our first visit to Talleyrand Park.”

The Rockers play the top hits of the rock era.

“Expect to hear hit songs from Billy Joel, Kiss, Bad Company, Kenny Loggins. Eagles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, The Doors, Foo Fighters and more,” Oravec said. “We may even sneak some Garth Brooks and Johnny Cash in the mix. It should be a fun night for everyone.

The talent, and musical variety, won’t stop after Week 1. Callanish will entertain in Week 2, June 13, playing authentic Celtic way, followed by a journey back to the 1940s with trio The Lindy Sisters on June 20. The Taylor Brothers will conclude the month of June with their three-part harmonies on June 27.

The July schedule will kick off on the holiday evening when RamaLama, performing 1950s and 60s a cappella doo wop, takes the stage July 4. Local favorite Tommy Wareham will entertain on July 11, followed by the Vegas-style entertainment of Zupe on July 18 and The Bellefonte Community Band on July 25.

The final two concerts in the park include the rockabilly sounds of Kristi Jean and Her Ne’er Do-Wells on Aug. 1 and the smooth harmony and acoustics blends of the trio The Extra Miles on Aug. 8.

According to event committee member Bonnie Leathers, if last year’s enthusiasm for the pandemic-influenced event says anything for how this year is going to go, 2021 may be the best year yet.

“Due to the pandemic, things were pretty much touch and go for us,” Leathers said. “We had performers who desperately wanted to perform, but had no venue. Bellefonte had already cancelled the annual cruise, children’s fair and art and crafts fair, but we were determined to have the concert and make it work.”

With the cooperation of Bellefonte Borough, which approved the concerts, and dedicated BHCA volunteers, who spray-painted 12-foot circles on the park grass to mark social distancing and posted signs requesting the use of face masks, the show rolled through 2020. Other safety precautions included a stationary donation bucket and not using emcees, which eliminated designating someone to walk around collecting donations and kept microphone usage to band members only.

The cancelation of the Grange Fair allowed the committee to extend the series deeper into the summer of 2020.

Leathers said she believes the Sunday evening concerts are “just a nice way to be entertained for an hour and enjoy the idyllic setting of Talleyrand Park.”

“The music is geared to an older crowd…,” Leathers said. “By attendance over the years, it has worked. It is a perfect way to end your weekend.”

Attendees should bring a chair or blanket along for personal comfort and for a better listening experience.

“Although there are park benches and tables throughout the park, some are not in places where you would be able to see and/or hear the musicians,” Leathers said. “I would encourage new people to come early and bring a picnic supper if they would like.”

She said local eateries will be open during the event as well, including Happy Wraps, Mamma Mia’s, Governors’ Pub, Cool Beans Bistro and several others.

This is the 40th year of the concert series. It took root in 1981 from the minds of Leathers and fellow BHCA member Melady Kehm.

“At the time, the group was looking for events that would be of interest to the people of Bellefonte,” Leathers said. “Out of these discussions came Victorian Christmas, the Victorian Ball, Sunday evening concerts in the park, and later, Sunday afternoon concerts at the library.”

The current concert committee includes Leathers, JoAnn Knupp and Bellefonte Mayor Tom Wilson.

The “Summer Sounds from the Gazebo” concerts are sponsored by the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association, along with financial support from the Garver Charity Fund of the Bellefonte Elks, grants from the PA Council on the Arts and The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, along with donations received from those in attendance.