PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Shire City Sessions are back.
The weekly concert series takes place over the next three Mondays at the First Street Common. The concerts bring original live music to the Berkshires, and fills up what tends to be an uneventful night of the week.
"There is a little bit of a hole in the cultural scene when it comes to original music," said Alan Bauman, who founded the concert series in 2015 to bring in national and regional music talent to tackle that issue.
It began in the parking lot of the Shire City Sanctuary the first year. Last year, it moved to the Common and worked in tandem with the Shakespeare in the Park, using the same set, over the course of four weeks. It drew some 300 people to the concerts, which Bauman said has a "family-friendly" atmosphere.
"It really fills in for the dark night of Shakespeare in the Park," Bauman said.
Bauman's company, Compuworks, underwrites the program along with Blue Q, Interprint, and Greylock Federal Credit Union. With those donations, the concerts are free to the public while providing money to book the bands.
Chris Hantman from Sounds and Tones Records did the booking this year. The lineup includes Drew Angus, Born Without Bones, and Vunderbar.
"We knew we wanted stuff that was family friendly and we wanted bands doing something unique," Hantman said.
Particularly, the record company was seeking an array of different genres and sounds. After booking those three acts, they booked local talent that matches somewhat to the headliner.
"Each show was different we wanted that vibe to continue," Hantman said.
Drew Angus kicks off the first night. Angus was a runner up in "American Idol" and will be playing with a full band. Hantman said he brings a "unique folk sound" to the stage.
Born without Bones brings a more rocking sound, with what Hantman describes as indie rock with a mix of punk. And, Vunderbar is another unique rock band which recently took the stage at Boston Calling.
"They've been a band we've been a fan of for a long time," Hantman said.
Sounds and Tones Records focuses primarily on producing records and merchandise for bands but has started to get into the promoter business for local events. The company books bands for shows on its own and this year book the lineup for the Colegrove Park Concert Series in North Adams.
"We do it because we want to build a great music community in the area," Hantman said. "We're really excited and we're always open to help people book things."
The shows start at 6 p.m. and this year the city is taking on a stronger role in the management of the event. The city's Office of Cultural Development is helping with coordination, which was somewhat needed after one of the original organizers moved away. The Zion Lutheran Church is once again providing a location for the show to go on should it rain, which it did multiple times last year.
But the series is cut down by one show. Bauman said last year there were four shows and Shakespeare in the Park had to leave its set up for an additional week for that show. Shire City Sessions has cut that additional week to better coordinate with that program.
Also this year, the organizers "simplified" the event and won't be featuring the food trucks as it had in the past and instead limiting the food vendors. But, local brewery Wandering Star will still be on hand selling beer.
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