By Emily Carter
Music will be ringing out in Manassas again with the help of the ARTFactory’s SummerSounds concert series. Each year, the ARTFactory sponsors concerts in the late summer showcasing different artists and genres at the Harris Pavilion.
The SummerSounds series will feature four artists starting with Shenandoah Run on July 24. The band consists of nine members from Washington, D.C. playing folk and Americana music with live instruments.
The second act, “Lil’ Maceo” Kareem Walkes, will take the stage Aug. 7. Lil Maceo is a saxophone player making waves in the jazz world mixing in contemporary music with the occasional cover of today’s popular songs.
On Aug. 14, The Splinters will be performing a mix of Americana, roots, rock and country songs with local musicians. Their debut album “Old Songs” was released in 2016.
The final act in the series, Wicked Olde, performs Sept. 4. The four-person group plays primarily Celtic music mixed with bluegrass accompanied by the occasional jig. Wicked Olde has performed at the Harris Pavilion before and was a favorite of past audiences.
Choosing the Artists
ARTFactory Executive Director Jordan Exum said she looks to the public and the Virginia Center of the Arts touring directory to help her decide what acts will be performing in the summer.
“My main thing every year is trying to find a nice variety of musical styles that people will enjoy because you always have kind of a mixed audience,” Exum said. “[I look at the] VCA touring directories and listen to our patrons and constituents. And then just kind of checking out the local scene in general is what I try to do. In addition to just trying to have a nice mix of genres, we’ve got folk, we’ve got funk, we’ve got Americana, a little bit of country. But that’s the goal, to try to have diverse music coming out of the pavilion.”
In 2020, ARTFactory had to cancel their acts for the SummerSounds series due to the coronavirus pandemic and wanting the acts and the community to be safe.
“Unfortunately, we had to reach out and cancel because of COVID. I know that the city I think did a few virtual concerts…We did not end up going that route. But we were very fortunate to reschedule the bands from last summer, for this year,” Exum said. “Fortunately, all of them were very gung-ho and very interested in participating. COVID has kept a lot of people at home. And it’s been very difficult for musicians and artists and everyone related really in the art field. So they were all very excited to be rescheduled for this summer and they’re very excited just to get back.”
The SummerSounds concert series will be in person this year. The city of Manassas and the ARTFactory have plans to keep the artists and members of the community safe while enjoying music.
“The concerts this summer will be in person. We haven’t quite finalized all the COVID guidelines that will be in place, but we will have plenty of social distancing or spacing as needed, and the (artists will) be a nice distance away from the audience. There’s a couple different things we’re working out. And we made some adjustments to our contract to accommodate that as well. I’m excited just to have performances again, in person,” Exum said.
Exum encourages members of the community to look up the artists who are performing in order to get excited to attend the concerts.
The Harris Pavilion also puts on concerts during the summer with series such as Acoustic Tuesday concerts, Sunday Funday concerts and Saturday nights concerts. Manassas Recreation Supervisor Alex Hamilton hopes regular concert goers or members of the community just passing by the pavilion any night of the week, take advantage of the amenities their communities offer.
“I feel like that’s so much up to the individual. Whether you’re here for a specific purpose or you’re (one of those) people who are just getting off the train and just enjoy having something to do while they wait. Sometimes there’s people passing through visiting or sometimes, it’s our residents of the community that follow the series and come repeatedly,” Hamilton said. “I of course hope that everyone gets a sense of enjoyment out from it. But the biggest goal is to bring people into town and really just promote our outdoor open spaces in our parks. There are a lot of hidden resources I think that a lot of people might not be aware that their community offers.”
Exum hopes people attending the SummerSounds series feel that life is getting back to normal after the crazy year everyone has had.
“I hope that it’s a nice moment of relief for them. It’s been a hard year for everybody, and nothing has been normal. I just hope that maybe them going out to the performance during that hour and a half, they kind of feel like a little flash back in time and feel a sense of normalcy. I hope it helps people feel like things are progressing. I know it’s strange times we’re living in right now. But mainly, I guess I just hope that people enjoy it. I hope they come out to it. And it’s a fun experience for them,” Exum said.
The ARTFactory puts on their SummerSounds concert series by partnering with Micron Technology located in Manassas.
The Summer Sounds concert series begins July 24 at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit manassascity.org/harrispavilion or virginiaartfactory.org/from-the-artfactory-to-you/.
Emily Carter is a Prince William Living contributing writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.