The Norman Transcript

May 10, 2013

Summer Breeze offers months of free, live music

By Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Live music, a park and an audience. It’s all Performing Arts Studio’s Summer Breeze concert series needs to succeed.

With over a decade of free, well-attended outdoor performances under their belt, Nancy McClellan, founder of Summer Breeze and PAS volunteer, said this year’s eight-concert series, kicking off May 19, will continue to be a crowd-pleaser.

“It’s just simple, basic fun,” she said.

This year’s Sunday night concerts bring a cast of talented musicians throughout the summer, including: John Fullbright, The Gourds, Parker Millsap, Mike Hosty Duo, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, Honeylark, Elephant Revival and Byron Berline Band.

Mark McClellan, Summer Breeze chair and Nancy’s son, said the range of music — Americana, alternative country, zydeco, folk, bluegrass and more — paired with the relaxed, outdoor atmosphere is appealing for many audience members.

“It’s more relaxed. It’s not an ordeal like a three-day festival can be. It’s more like wander up and sit down and have a nice relaxing evening,” he said. “There’s no braving the heat of the day because they’re playing about the time the sun goes down. It’s more of a little community, neighborhood thing.”

That’s a large part of the music series’ appeal, Nancy said — the small-town feel. Many bring the whole family with blankets and a picnic dinner to enjoy the evening.

Mark agreed.

“It’s got a local flavor. The one thing that makes it different than probably any other festival is it’s strictly music,” he said. “We don’t have food trucks, we don’t have merch sellers, other than the bands selling their own things. The focus is strictly on the music and not the event itself.”

The concerts first began as an off-shoot of the Firehouse Art Center’s Midsummer Night’s Fair in 2000. Shortly afterwards, the newly formed PAS took over the series.

Now, almost every performance receives 1,000 plus in attendance, with their highest concert reaching approximately 3,000.

Concerts are funded by grants provided by Oklahoma Arts Council and Norman Arts Council, as well as various private donors and cash donations accepted during the performances.

For more information visit pasnorman.org.

Breakout box:

Mark your calendars now to enjoy a summer filled with free, live music in Lions Park, 450 S. Flood Ave., during Performing Arts Studio’s 2013 Summer Breeze series. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m.

May 19: John Fullbright

A recent Grammy-nominee, Okemah, Okla., native John Fullbright is well-known for his Americana songwriting.

“We’re real excited to have him because if his career keeps skyrocketing this may be the last time we get him,” Summer Breeze chair Mark McClellan said. “Although he might like his home state connection so you never know.”

Get a taste of his work before heading out to the show by visiting johnfullbrightmusic.com.

June 2: The Gourds

This alternative country group from Austin, Texas, is bringing a little bit of twang and a whole lot of fun to Norman. The band will be playing at the same time as Luncheon on the Grass, a free arts event hosted by several Norman non-profit arts organizations.

Visit thegourds.com to learn more about this band that has been touring together for 17 years.

June 16: Parker Millsap

A local favorite, Parker Millsap’s set will surely highlight his sultry voice and the bluesy twist he brings to his Americana tunes. Check out the Chickasha, Okla., native’s work at parkermillsap.com.

July 7: Mike Hosty Duo

No stranger to Summer Breeze shows, Mike Hosty Duo will heat up the night with their eclectic sound. Visit hosty.com to learn more about the artists that call Norman home.

July 21: Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band

As proclaimed on their website: “There ain’t no party like a Chubby party.” Get a sneak peek on what this Louisiana Grammy-award winning group has to offer at chubbycarrier.com.

Aug. 25: Elephant Revival

Washboard, banjos, mandolin, fiddle, stompbox and more are coming to the stage during Elephant Revival’s modern bluegrass performance at Summer Breeze. Catch up on this Colorado band at elephantrevival.com.

Sept. 8: Byron Berline Band

A living legend, Byron Berline has played alongside the likes of Willie Nelson, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and more. Get to know the Guthrie, Okla., native’s traditional bluegrass sound at thebyronberlineband.com before heading to the show.