A Summer of Music in the Star City

12 years ago
Breaking Trail
by Dianne Leighton

    There are few things as beautiful and cherished as summertime in The County. After months of braving the cold and staving off cabin fever, the last place we want to end up is indoors. Thankfully, summertime in The County is also a rich time for outdoor events of all kinds, including Presque Isle’s Music in the Park concert series held in Riverside Park.

    This summer marks the fifth year for Music in the Park and an ideal time for the series’ organizer, Carol Ayoob, to reflect upon the event’s success and look toward the future. Inspired by similar concert series in other communities and the powerful connections witnessed at larger music events (such as the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival in Fredericton, N.B.) Ayoob sought to bring, as she puts it, the “energy and emotion of beats, rhythms, and words” from musicians from Aroostook County and beyond. In doing so, Music in the Park also offers a chance for listeners of all ages to hear musical genres that are not always easy to experience in the community … and for free!


    This year’s series continues this trend by hosting four diverse headliners across three monthly concerts: the Middle-Eastern flavors of Northern Caravan last month, alt-country Americana from Wes Hartley and the Traveling Trees and Eastern European-styled folk from Brown Bird in July, and lush jazz rhythms from Pyeng Threadgill, Tyler Wood and Evan Pazner in August. Each concert includes an opening performance by local favorites Mark Shaw and the Airwaves, Travis Cyr and the Strings of Calamity, and Tess Collins.

    Although the spirit of Music in the Park remains the same, fans will notice the shift from four consecutive weekly concerts to three monthly shows. While the change reflects the ongoing local effects of the economic downturn, large sponsors (such as the University of Maine at Presque Isle and MMG Insurance), significant donations from local small businesses and individuals, and volunteer staffing at each concert also show how community members are able to move the series forward in a continued effort to support the downtown area and its role as a hub for the arts, music, and cultural events.

    And, for Ayoob, the event has the potential to reach deep into the community, especially with its potential influence on young people. In a recent interview, she pointed out that it’s not only about the performance when it comes to selecting musicians, but also whether or not “they could teach us something about their craft.” A positive, inspirational, and educational afternoon where all are welcomed to relax, dance, and connect in the summer sun? Well … that’s certainly something that would make me tap my toes!

    To catch this summer’s concerts, just stop by Riverside Park on Sunday, Aug. 12th from 1-4 p.m. Be sure to bring your sunscreen and comfortable blanket or chair. Food vendors will also be on-site to sell snacks and drinks. For more information on this year’s schedule, volunteering, and donations, please contact Ayoob at 768-5903 to get involved.

    Dianna Leighton is youth librarian at the Mark & Emily Turner Memorial Library in Presque Isle. Her professional and personal interests include community building, digital media and content creation, and promoting transliteracy skills. In her spare time, she enjoys testing her cooking skills, reading anything she can get her hands on, and sharing stories and experiences with those in her community. Dianna can be reached at (207) 764-2571 or via e-mail at diannaleighton@presqueislelibrary.org.