Expanded summer concert series returns to Willows

Fiver performances planned for Oak Bay seaside venue

Rhonda Graham and Van Williams dance at Willows Park during the Damian Graham Trio performance at last year’s summer concert series.

Rhonda Graham and Van Williams dance at Willows Park during the Damian Graham Trio performance at last year’s summer concert series.

Dancing to dusk at Willows Park will be a summer evening option again, based on the success of last year’s concert series featuring quality music and a stunning venue.

“We didn’t have a lot of lead-up time last year,” said Janet Barclay, manager of recreation program services. “We were so thrilled with the crowds, especially the makeup of the crowds, young families and older adults were all dancing.”

Two performers make a return trip, Damian Graham Trio (July 22) and The O’Brien Family (July 15).

“Those two groups were so well received last year we knew they would be very popular,” said Barclay.

They’ve added West My Friend for Aug. 5 and  From the Street to the Beach featuring Adam Bay and guests on Aug. 12.

“I planned four and then the gospel choir approached to perform somewhere in Oak Bay.” Barclay said.

With Oak Bay Rotary and Kiwanis clubs ready to sponsor an extra show, the summer concert series of five will kick off Tuesday with the Victoria Gospel Soul Choir.

It’s fast become tradition for folks to stake out a space or come early and have dinner with the Kiwanis Tea House open.

“Some people went early to claim a picnic table, but the lower deck chairs work well as well. People can enjoy the food off of their regular menu, or just snacks or an ice cream. Or you could bring your own picnic or a combination of the above,” said Barclay.

While there’s a tradition of good weather so far – this is the second year –  a sweater or blanket is recommended.

“Should we not have it as warm, just put on a sweater,” Barclay said. “Unless it’s really a storm we’ll try to proceed, so maybe bring an umbrella.”

On June 30 hear the Victoria Soul Gospel Choir, an enthusiastic community choral group made up of singers of all ages and walks of life, who embrace the blend of Motown, R&B, smooth soul and Afro-American music. Under the direction of Checo Tohomaso, the choir began just over a decade ago with a handful of voices singing five-part harmony. It has now grown to over 70 members – men and women – who share spirited song and infectious energy that brings audiences to their feet.

While the first concert is a Tuesday, the rest of the summer schedule is slated for Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30.

“Last year a lot of people walked or rode their bikes, so we didn’t find an issue with parking congestion. It was great to see people coming down different streets in different modes of transportation,” Barclay said.

“We hope that people mark their calendars. Bring your friends, it’s a good way to catch up with friends without entertaining in your home.”

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com