For more than 35 years, the returning sounds of summer music have fill the courtyard of the Princeton Shopping Center for the annual Courtyard Concert Summer Series.
The Arts Council of Princeton organizes the series each year, and for 2019, the series will feature 10 performers, which include several favorites and newcomers.
“This year in particular was the first year we had an open call for applicants. In years past we were doing the research and looking for specific bands, but in the interest of being community minded we wanted to provide more opportunities for local performers so we had the open call,” said Melissa Kuscin, Program and Marketing Manager at Arts Council of Princeton. “We ended up with a lot of interest this year. This lineup was hard to pick this year. The lineup turned out to be incredibly genre diverse and diverse in a lot of other ways.”
The series began on June 27, but will continue every Thursday from 6-8 p.m. until Aug. 29.
She estimated that there were about 50 applicants who applied to be selected for the summer series.
“We know there are some beloved returners and we like to offer those because we know our community loves them. So some returners like the Blawenburg Band, who starts off the series have been playing the series for years. It is like a local favorite. Grace Little and the Grace Little Band is another with a following, so people specifically come out to see those bands which is fantastic. We also like to keep it fresh and exciting, so it was important for me when selecting the music to introduce some new faces and voices.”
She explained how she accomplishes adding new voices and faces by introducing some performers from Communiversity. Kuscin highlighted Essie as one of those new voices and faces.
The 2019 lineup of performers are The Blawenburg Band, Big Country and the Finger Pick’n Good Band, Essie, The Blue Meanies, Alborada Spanish Dance Theatre, Lauren Marsh, T.S. Project, Princeton School of Rock, Taína Asili, and Amazin Grace and the GLB Band.
The courtyard is located near the Mcaffery’s Food Market entrance in the Princeton Shopping Center on 301 Harrison St. in Princeton.
“The courtyard there is truly a perfect setting for these shows it offers just green space for people to sit, lay out blankets and lawn chairs, with children running around as well that provide just an excellent setting for these shows,” Kuscin said.
Arts Council officials said last year was the first time the series opened up to businesses of the Princeton Shopping Center to make the concert experience a little more special.
“The Center is always growing, so we worked with the Shopping Center on the sponsor a concert initiative. It is free for the tenants to participate and they are able to offer something a little extra,” she said. “For example, Surf Taco will be a part of it where they have a big wheel that people can spin and win coupons and prizes. Every business is offering something different from the other.
Sara Beckstead, Communication Manager at EDENS which heads the Princeton Shopping Center, said the Shopping Center’s purpose is to enrich the community.
“The Summer Courtyard Concert Series is an experience for the Princeton community to gather together and celebrate. We hope that the Summer Courtyard Concert Series continues to be a tradition for Princetonians and many others,” she said. “We are proud that the community continually chooses to make their memories at Princeton Shopping Center. The Arts Council of Princeton has been a great partner in selecting the talented bands to bring live music, while we provide the place where these memories are made.”
Beckstead said they are thrilled to see how their new retail partners in the center a part of the series.
“We have welcomed many new retail partners to Princeton Shopping Center and we are thrilled to see how they have been embraced by the community. For the second year in a row, we have incorporated Concert Sponsors – all of which are businesses at Princeton Shopping Center— to further connect the community through this annual tradition,” she said. “We look forward to another successful Summer Courtyard Concert Series.
Kuscin discussed how the series has received a great community response through the years, where between 250-500 people have attended any given show.
“People come up to me and say we are so happy you guys do this we come every year. This series is multi-generational, free and accessible,” she said. “People just love live music. You just cannot beat a nice summer night in beautiful courtyard listening to good music. You just can’t beat it.”
She said she want people to feel like they are a part of the community after taking in these performances.
“It is about these shared experiences. Neighbors, strangers, and friends come together to feel like they are part of something through a high quality arts experience,” Kuscin said.
For more information about the 2019 Summer Concert Series, visit www.artscouncilof princeton.org.