Charleston West Virginia Economic Development

Discussions on Economic and Community Development in West Virginia and the Charleston MSA as well as issues of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The article below appeared in Wednesday's Daily Mail. It highlights the Live on the Levee series and mentions feedback Generation Charleston had about the event. Check out the first show tonight at Haddad Riverfront Park.

This Weekend Kicks Off a Long Summer of Sizzling Entertainment

By Matthew Thompson
Daily Mail Staff

Memorial Day Weekend brings the unofficial start of summer and kicks off a busy season of entertainment in Charleston.

"There's something special every weekend from Memorial Day to July 4th," said Rod Blackstone, assistant to Mayor Danny Jones.

The season kicks off Friday with the annual Live on the Levee concert series at Haddad Riverfront Park. The concerts will occur every Friday night until August 22.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m., the first concert will feature the musical group The Grass Stains followed by Matt & Friends.

Blackstone said the event has been expanded by two weeks this year.

He said city officials noticed last Memorial Day a barge of boaters along the riverfront. So they figured if the time was right for boaters to head outdoors, it might be time for concertgoers, too.
They're hoping the riverfront traffic, plus other events this holiday weekend, will lead to increased attendance for the concerts, Blackstone said.

"It's kind of really the societal start of the summer season," Blackstone said.

The concert series is also occurring 45 minutes later than in previous years.

Blackstone said this decision came out of feedback from Generation Charleston, a committee of young professionals created by the Charleston Area Alliance.

The group said a later start time would give more time after work for people to attend the concerts.

"We could do it right after work, but something a little later encourages people to come home and then go back for the concerts," Blackstone said.

The concerts this year will also feature two acts on Fridays instead of the usual one.

Also this weekend, the 2008 Vandalia Gathering gets underway at the State Capitol complex. The three-day festival weekend begins Friday at 7 p.m.

This is the 32nd year for the event, which showcases traditional music, crafts and culture of West Virginia.

Yearly favorite events include banjo, fiddle and lap dulcimer competitions along with the Liars Contest, which honors the state's best storytellers.

On June 1, Symphony Sunday will be at the University of Charleston. The free event will include food and games as well as performance by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

A fireworks display will close out the day's festivities.

On June 20, the eight-day FestivALL begins with lots of events on both sides of the Kanawha River.

The schedule features the 2008 Smoke on the Water Chili Cook-off at Haddad Riverfront Park. The event, which will celebrate its 10th year, will be June 21.

Other highlights include concerts at the Clay Center featuring Tony Award winning dancer Savion Glover and legendary soul singer Gladys Knight. Glover will perform on June 25 with Knight's concert occurring the following evening.

On June 27, the annual Blues, Brews& BBQ will be on the University of Charleston lawn. The event will feature live performances from singer Shemekia Copeland and blues guitarist Sonny Landreth.

On June 28, the Wine and All That Jazz event will be at University of Charleston lawn. It will feature a concert performance by the Ellis Marsalis Quartet.

For the July 4th holiday, concerts and a fireworks display will occur along Haddad Riverfront Park.

With that holiday falling on a Friday this year, Live on the Levee will feature local Beatles tribute band Rubber Soul followed by a performance from the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.
Last year, city officials didn't host their own event because July 4th fell in the middle of the week. The city ended up teaming with the West Virginia Power for fireworks and a free concert at Appalachian Power Park.

Now that this year's holiday is tied into a weekend, Blackstone said the city is eager to bring the celebration back to the Kanawha Boulevard.

"There will be people coming for the weekend," Blackstone said. "They can come up to Charleston and see some a really good concert and some of the best fireworks around."


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