When Concerts in the Plaza got its start back in 1990, the idea was to attract non-weekend summer visitors to downtown during the evening hours. Over the years, the free music event, held every Thursday night from Memorial Day to Labor Day in the Plaza de la Constitucion, has become an institution appreciated by tourists and locals alike.
Wanda Bray, the city’s event administrator, is responsible for booking the musical acts, a responsibility she’s managed for years.
“Each year, bands that performed the previous year are offered the opportunity to return,” says Williamson. “Generally, that will leave a few spots to fill, so recommendations are sought from a variety of sources. We know that many in our audience have favorite performers that they may only get to see and hear once a year, so having performers return is appreciated by the audience.”
Now in its 27th year, Concerts in the Plaza will be welcoming back longtime favorites such as The Driftwoods, The Mike Hart Band, Rob Ellis Peck and Friends, Big Pineapple, Bob and Joline and the Friends of Mine Band, The Grapes of Roth, Ancient City Slickers, The Gatorbone Band and Lonesome Bert and The Skinny Lizards. A few newcomers include The Session, The Raisin Cake Orchestra and Doug Carn and The Lincolnville Brass Band.
“Doug is not new to the community by any means,” Williamson says of musician Carn. “He is an institution. His Lincolnville Brass Band is relatively new, though. Most people will remember their performance as part of the opening of the Dr. Robert B. Hayling Freedom Park last year. This is the band’s first performance as part of Concerts in the Plaza.”
Williamson says that since the free music series is anchored by resident attendees, it’s a great opportunity for visitors to the city to enjoy the authentic flavor of what makes St. Augustine so special.
“Lagniappe is a Cajun term for an unexpected gift, a little something extra like that 13th donut when you buy a dozen. That’s what Concerts in the Plaza is for visitors,” he says. “They arrive in St. Augustine with plans to see attractions, tour historic sites, dine out and shop, but they do not plan on seeing a free concert under the majestic oaks of the city’s historic epicenter.
“Overall, the city wants to always be a place that provides a welcoming environment for families and friends and residents to spend time together, and if Concerts in the Plaza contributes to an environment that has residents appreciating where they live and visitors where they visit, then it has achieved its goal.”
St. Augustine Record, June 3, 2017