Music in the Park starts Sept. 6

Closing out this year’s Music in the Park series is the Rocket Man Show, an energetic Elton John tribute led by Rus Anderson of Clearwater.

The city’s 17th annual Music in the Park series will swing into action Friday, Sept. 6, 7 p.m., at Seminole City Park, 7464 Ridge Road.

Kicking off this year’s lineup, Waste Management of Pinellas will sponsor the local musical ensemble SPAN playing the music of Sinatra and friends.

SPAN is a ministry of Connect2Christ Church, which hosts worship services Sundays at 9:45 a.m., in the Freedom Square auditorium in Seminole. SPAN is an acronym for Singing, Praising, Acting, Nurturing. According to the Connect2Christ website, the musical ministry team features 18 musicians and singers.

At Music in the Park, SPAN will be performing a selection of hits made famous by Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra – along with tunes by some of Sinatra’s closest musical friends.

The two-hour concert is the first of six on consecutive Friday nights at the park. Performances run 7 to 9 p.m. Following is a list of other scheduled performances:

• Sept. 13 – Yesterdayze

• Sept. 20 – Troy Duncan

• Sept. 27 – Tommy Roxx and the Big Deal

• Oct. 4 – The Sounds of Soul

• Oct. 11 – The Rocket Man Show.

Admission is free to all performances. Parking, also free, is available in the park and in a larger lot west of the park between Old Oakhurst Road and the Pinellas Trail. Attendees are invited to bring chairs and blankets. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

Once again, the city has selected a diverse group of entertainers, each act fluent in a distinctive musical style. The event usually attracts the interest of dozens of local and regional musical performers, each vying for a headlining spot at the free concert series. This year’s lineup represents a wide variety of musical genres.

The second band scheduled to perform, Yesterdayze, will take attendees on a magic carpet ride back to the 1960s. Yesterdayze will perform Sept. 13.

Yesterdayze plays a selection of Top 40 hits from 1960 through 1969 – everything from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to Jimi Hendrix and Steppenwolf.

According to Alex Kinlaw, Yesterdayze was created in 2007 by a group of like-minded professional musicians who wanted to celebrate the incredible genius of the songwriters and performing artists of that tumultuous time period. Kinlaw, a founding member, had come up with the name Yesterdayze during the early 1990s while performing with his wife, MaryLu, who fronts the band. It resonated with this group, and Yesterdayze was born.

“The music from the decade that was the '60s impacted society like no other before or since,” said Kinlaw in an email. “It remains in play today from radio to television advertising, and has never come and gone like so many other trends in modern music. It has certainly had a lasting influence on all of us – the musicians who lived it, and loved it ... and still do.”

Yesterdayze, based in the Tampa Bay area, plays fairs and festivals all over North America, having most recently returned from a mini-tour of Nebraska and Montana.

Some local fans who live in the Seminole area asked why the band hadn’t played the Music in the Park series.

“We thought that was a good question,” Kinlaw said. “So we looked into it, and the folks in charge thought we were a good fit. So here we are!”

The outdoor setting at Seminole City Park suits Yesterdayze perfectly.

“Probably the best thing about playing outdoor festivals is the closeness and intimacy with the fans,” Kinlaw explained. “Every show can be a miniature Woodstock experience.”

Following SPAN’s salute to Sinatra and the ’60s revival performed by Yesterdayze, the Music in the Park series will continue with Troy Duncan playing American country on Sept. 20, Tommy Roxx and the Big Deal serving up Southern rock on Sept. 27, The Sounds of Soul reliving the hits of Motown on Oct. 4 and Rus Anderson paying tribute to Elton John in his Rocket Man Show on Oct. 11.

Anderson takes the final slot in this year’s Music in the Park lineup – and the show is sure to be a must-see event for area Elton John enthusiasts. The Rocket Man Show is an exact re-enactment of a young Elton John concert, featuring replica costumes, 100 percent live instrumentation and a grand piano. Anderson has spent years perfecting his playing, vocals and mannerisms to deliver a compelling and energetic tribute, one that has been endorsed by the official Elton John Fan Club.

Anderson is originally from Scotland. He has lived in Clearwater for about 10 years.

“I attended SPC Seminole campus,” Anderson said in an email interview. “So I have a lot of friends in Seminole. As a full time Elton John tribute, most of my shows are out of town – often out of state, so when I was approached by a local agent about performing a summer concert series here in Seminole with my band I was super excited. It's not too often I get to play to a home crowd!”

Anderson’s show features a solid catalogue of Elton John’s greatest hits, from the touching ballads to the blazing rock anthems. At every performance, he strives to give the audience a memorable night filled with nostalgia, singing, laughing and participation. He’s particularly looking forward to performing at Music in the Park.

“The atmosphere at the band shell in the park here in Seminole is electric,” Anderson said. “The backdrop is beautiful with all the trees and the lake, but most of all, there is a family-friendly, exciting energy when an event is taking place there.”

Anderson has attended several events at Seminole City Park as an audience member, but this will be his first time on the performing end.

“It doesn't get much better than playing an open air stage at sunset to a rocking outdoor audience!”

In addition to the city of Seminole and Waste Management of Pinellas, other presenting sponsors include the Rotary Club of Seminole Lake, DeLoach and Hofstra PA, Seminole Title Company, Keller Williams Realty Gulf Coast, Dr. Sandra Lilo and Barnhorn Financial. Event sponsors include Humana Marketpoint, Oakhurst Medical Center, Seminole Historical Society, First Home Bank, Greater Seminole Area Chamber of Commerce, Rita’s Italian Ices, Sapphire Signs, Seminole Beacon, Seminole FireFighters Local 2896, Suncoast Chrysler Jeep Dodge and Yoga4All.

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