Endless summer: Annual concert series returns after Covid cancellation

Jun 16, 2021

The sounds and rhythms of summer have officially returned to Apponagansett Park.

After a year of silence, the Parks and Recreation Department’s Summer Concert Series made its return with a ska-filled set from the NB Rude Boys to kick off the season of live shows.

“It’s a good first one,” recreation coordinator Becky Amaral said.

Although the state’s remaining Covid restrictions — including gathering limits — were lifted last month, she said that attendance for the first set of the season appeared lower than the usual 500 to 800 guests that typically fill the park.

“Normally, we would have the landing full of cars,” Amaral said. “Smith Neck too.”

A silver lining of  the smaller crowds, Amaral noted, is that it allowed for the parks department’s new employees to ease into directing traffic at large-scale events.

“It gets them to learn the ropes without being bombarded,” she said.

NB Rude Boys singer Sean FitzGerald said “it was an honor” to be the debut act for the series’ return. 

“We’re so grateful to be able to do this,” he said.

To set the tone, the frontman said his band tried to piece together a set that was “high energy for the people who have been inside for the past year.” 

Songs included genre hits such as“Sell Out” by Reel Big Fish and “The Impression That I Get” by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, along with contemporary covers like “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish and some originals.

“We tried to mix things up a bit,” FitzGerald said. “It’s exciting to bring something a bit unique and different.”

Dartmouth resident Michelle Harple, who has attended the annual series “since day one” in 1999, said she greatly appreciated the return of live shows to the park.

“It’s such a welcome moment now, especially after everything we’ve gone through,” she said.

Harple added that she was especially thrilled to be able to dance in public again.

“I love to dance, I love music,” she said. “I actually cried when drove in — I was like, ‘Finally, we’re here.’”

Annette Almeida of New Bedford was also overjoyed to be back at Apponagansett and enjoying some live music.

“We’re out of the darkness and into the light,” she said. “Hopefully these can continue.”

The summer concerts cost $5 per person at the gate, although kids 12 and under attend for free. Shows are every Wednesday evening, or Thursday if it rains, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. 

Musical acts for this year will include those scheduled to perform at the park in 2020, with a few changes based on band availability. The full schedule is available on the town’s website.

“It’s a complete replica of what was supposed to happen last year,” Amaral said. “With it already set, there was no need to reinvent the wheel.”

Next week’s concert will feature 80s and 90s alt-rock cover band RT18.