If the World’s Richest Acre is the heart of downtown Kilgore and oil its blood, then the Kilgore Main Street, Program’s Fridays After 5 Concert Series provides its soul.
The annual spring and summer lineup of musical acts will be, as ever, free and open to the public this year, featuring four shows and six sets of performers between May 2 and Aug. 15. For 2014, the concerts open at 8 p.m. on select Fridays and continue, typically, to about 10 p.m.
“The later schedule works better for the performers and the crowd in the Texas summer heat,” according to concert organizer and Kilgore News Herald co-publisher Jessica Woodall. The planners are also looking for a backup venue in case of inclement weather: “If we’re not at the World’s Richest Acre, visitors should look for a sign directing them to the night’s venue.”
The bring-your-own-chair events feature a wide array of performing artists this year, she added.
“Hopefully, this will have a good variety of sounds so we can bring different groups (of concert-goers) downtown,” Woodall explained. To that end, on Friday, July 25, “We are going to attempt to hold a street dance” to build excitement and lure a larger crowd.
KNH Publisher Bill Woodall is the current chairman of the Main Street program and a devoted Fridays After 5 attendee.
“I think it brings people to what I consider to be the heart of the community, spend some time on the World’s Richest Acre and appreciate the derricks and the tradition of the derricks,” he said. “I think it’s like a community reunion with a music background.”
The Main Street lineup, funded by $5,000 from the budget of the City of Kilgore department, kicks-off this year with Nouveaux Cajun XPress at 8 p.m. May 2. The group includes four former members of the Cajun band Tout Les Soir – according to their band bio, Butch Landry, Butch Golsan, John Ortis and Clyde Thompson have been been playing music together for more than a decade.
“After recruiting versatile Cajun accordion player Wallace Trahan, their first goal was to create a new kind of Cajun / Louisiana Music sound. Although they bill themselves as a Cajun band, Nouveaux Cajun XPress is much more than that. They perform many genres of music including Zydeco, Louisiana Swamp Pop, Blues, and even some old school Rock and Roll.”
More information on the group is available at nouveauxcajunxpress.com. In addition to their Fridays After 5 appearance, the band will have a follow-up show Saturday at Pirtle United Methodist Church then another headline performance at the Back Porch.
The year’s second FA5 event features youth performer Ally Venable on June 6, joined on the Acre’s Winter Elder Stage by more young rockers from DAZED.
Billed as a “young local guitarist and vocalist with an amazing voice and a big sound,” Venable lists blues and country music as her favorite styles, including influences Steve Ray Vaughan, Gretchen Wilson, Buddy Guy, Orinithia and other Kilgore locals, The Darby Warren Project.
East Texas classic rockers, Dazed’s musicians have been called “the band with young hearts and old souls,” including Lance Hampton on lead guitar and vocals, Caleb Cannon (bass guitar and vocals) and Drew Theiring (drums and vocals).
Find more information on Venable at allyvenable. com or followup with Dazed via facebook.com/dazedtheband.
Venable has already rocked a Fridays After 5 concert, Jessica Woodall said; “Dazed hasn’t played before with us, but they have played in several venues in East Texas, so we’re excited about having something new and different.”
There will be another familiars face at July 25’s Fridays After 5 performance and street dance from 8 to 10 p.m. – the Bluebirds includes veteran FA5 showman Bruce Flett alongside a myriad group of other musicians in their new six- to seven-piece blues, soul and dance band.
According to reviewers, “The players and singers may change, but the Blues/Roots/ R&B keeps the dance floor packed. One might compare Bluebirds to other perennial favorites that have evolved like Roomful of Blues, Fabulous Thunderbirds or Louisiana’s LeRoux.” Find more at thebluebirds.com The 2014 season closes with a special back-to-school show from 9 p.m. until midnight Aug. 15 with a dual performance from local musicians Levi Kitchen and Daniel Foster.
According to his bio, “Daniel Foster has a unique style of music, traditional country with a hint of early gospel exposure. Daniel also covers many classic country tunes as well as Daniel Foster ‘original’ songs you are sure to love.” Kitchen, minister of music at Kilgore’s Cornerstone Fellowship is “a singer/songwriter who has been performing and recording music most of his life, playing a broad range of styles from Hard/Progressive rock to Acoustic Blues/Jazz.”
Find more on the season’s late night finale at levikitchenmusic.com and facebook.com/danielfostermusic.
To learn more about the Fridays After 5 concert series, follow the “Kilgore Main Street Program” on Facebook.