Levitt AMP Galva Music Series a rousing success; wheels turning on year two plans

This summer’s Levitt AMP Galva Music Series has surpassed all expectations, according to organizer John Taylor.

Taylor — a resident of Cambridge and the driving force behind the Galva Arts Council’s Levitt AMP efforts — dropped by the Galva News office on July 3 and assessed the music series at the halfway point of its inaugural year.

“I think when we first started all the planning, the number we had in mind for attendance was probably 200 to 300 people per concert,” Taylor said. “Aside from the one concert we had to move to the (Galva High School) gym, we’ve had over 600 people at every concert. That’s really cool. That’s been neat to see the response from the community, and that they are coming out and supporting it.”

After a one-week hiatus, the music series returned Sunday night and another strong and enthusiastic crowd enjoyed the musical stylings of Seasaw and the energetic Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas.

Taylor said the second half of the concert series schedule takes a few more chances musically.

“The first half was more safe music — stuff that people could relate to and wouldn’t be afraid to go out to the park and take a chance on,” Taylor said, pointing out the musical diversity started in Week 5 with the Sones de Mexico Ensemble. “Exposing people to different cultures, ideas and music is important.”

“We’ve had a pretty wide range of different styles of music and the people seem receptive to it,” he added, noting the Sones de Mexico Ensemble drew the largest crowd in the first half of the series.


Group effort

Taylor is quick to pass around the credit for the early success of the series.

“Overall the amount of people who have volunteered has been great,” he said. “Each week we try to dial things in a little bit better. There are some things I think we can do better and there are some things I think we’ve made improvements on. Overall, it’s gone pretty well.”

He said figuring out the logistics of Wiley Park has been one of the greatest challenges. With a road running through the park and children scurrying about and playing on the playground equipment, making the park safe and comfortable has been a top priority. 

“That’s taken a lot of work to fine tune that aspect,” Taylor said. 

Other highlights of the weekly series are the vendor fair, dinner served by an area organization, a musical guest performing while concert-goers enjoy their supper, and concession stands set up in Wiley Park.

“Every week we try to do something a little bit better and make things a little easier,” Taylor said.

“The really cool thing about it all is it’s not just me making the decisions,” he added. “It’s really a group and community effort.”


The future

Don’t expect the Levitt AMP Galva Music Series to be a one-and-done venture. Taylor said the Galva Arts Council intends to apply for the $25,000 matching grant again in 2019, but the show will likely go on even if Galva isn’t selected as one of the 15 grant recipients.

“That’s the plan,” Taylor said of this becoming an annual summer music series. “It’s a lot of ideas at this point. There’s nothing concrete, but it’s going to happen. Exactly what it’s going to look like — I can’t tell you that right now.”

He believes it will remain 10 weeks and the break in the middle will be eliminated, as the Arts Council’s John Sloan Memorial Coffeehouse during Freedom Fest will be incorporated into the series.

One big expense — a sound system — was paid for this year.

“This year we invested about $20,000 in sound equipment which we should be able to use for years and years,” Taylor said. “That’s an expense we won’t have in coming years.”

He predicts the series will remain on Sunday nights, and start the first week of June and conclude the first week of August.

“That’s kind of my hope with all this — to build that culture where people are excited about music,” Taylor said. “It’s a very encouraging start and having access to all this music in this area is a huge privilege.”

“It’s right here. I think that’s neat and I think a lot of people do appreciate it. We’re just putting it out there and seeing what happens.”


Remaining schedule

 Here’s the remaining schedule for the Levitt AMP Galva Music Series in Wiley Park:

July 15 — Sweet Crude (French Rock) and Upstate Rubdown (Acoustic Septet)

July 22 — Sophistafunk (Hip Hop) and High Up (Soul)

July 29 — Samantha Fish (Blues) and Luke Winslow-King (Vintage Blues)

Aug. 5 — Kris Lager (Rock) and Calliope Musicals (Rock)