August 27, 2012


Summer Stage rocks Main St.

Downtown concert Saturday welcomes college students

SummerBob Ellis/staff photographer
A crowd attends a concert Saturday on Main Street.

Staff writer

Heads bobbed and feet danced to feel-good tunes Saturday evening at the Cortland Summer Stage music festival. About 200 people enjoyed the concert on a closed-off portion of Main Street while a group of roller-skaters took advantage of the lack of traffic.
The free concert was a first for Cortland, and aimed to connect returning students and year-round residents with local bands.
Mayor Brian Tobin, Adam Megivern, executive director of Cortland’ Downtown Partnership, and Chris Merkley, CEO of Old Boy Records and a concert promoter and organizer, combined forces with local businesses to forge the event.
The first band to go on was the Hurtin’ Units that showcased a punk sound and songs written about Cortland and The Daily Grind, a Main Street newsstand.
“They have a good sound,” Chase Wiley said. The 21-year-old Tompkins Cortland Community College student was glad to see a smaller city like Cortland attracting music downtown. “It’s gonna be a good night.”
Tobin agreed.
“It’s nice to be able to showcase the local talent,” Tobin said. “I think it’s a great opportunity.”
The mayor pointed to the variety of people out enjoying the festival.
“You’ve got people of all ages and (from) all over the city here,” Tobin said.
One of the youngest to enjoy the concert was Ali, a precocious 2-year-old more interested in the person dancing inside a green bear costume to advertise for a local bookstore than the bands. The blonde little girl, who was fascinated by what she thought was a giant stuffed animal, got a hug and shouted, “Thank you, teddy bear!”
Ali attended the festival with her grandparents, Margaret and A.J. Parker of Cortland.
“I hope that maybe this will be something that gets bigger as time goes on,” Margaret Parker said.
A.J. Parker thought the concert was a great idea, but that it would be better to hold it over Labor Day weekend. While college students were returning this weekend to SUNY Cortland and TC3 and parents might still be around, he thought the concert would still have attracted more people this weekend.
“I know a lot of parents drop their students off and take off,” A.J. Parker said.
Keith Appel, a 21-year-old SUNY Cortland senior, was also out enjoying the music but thought one thing was missing from the evening: a lift on the open container ban.
“I think it was a cool idea,” Appel said. “I think it would be awesome if we could drink some beers out here.”
A lift on the open container ban was proposed by organizers to the city Common Council, but after contentious debate the request was withdrawn.
A variety of bands took the stage throughout the night, from The Wild Hunt with its mix of bluegrass and gospel that was a special hit with the littlest audience members to bluesy Digger Jones and Spilt Milk with its funk and reggae streaks.


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