SCHENECTADY — The sounds of jazz music floated throughout Schenectady's Central Park on Saturday afternoon, echoing faintly in the park's expansive rose garden and coming to a crescendo in the park's Music Haven Stage, where ensemble Jazz Vibes was starting its set for Discover Schenectady's Summer Kick Off Event concert.
The concert was a part of a number of activities hosted by Discover Schenectady, and the overall event was the organization's first attempt to draw attention to the city's jewel park and recreational resources. The day consisted of a day full of live music, and in conjunction with the kick off event, Discover Schenectady also launching its #SoundsofSchenectady Music Challenge.
Concert-goers who attend at least 10 eligible live music events in Schenectady County this summer will have a chance to win a special edition Discover Schenectady T-shirt.
Acts throughout the day included Ensemble Congeros, Jazz Vibes, Girl Blue, North & South Dakotas, Meta and the Cornerstones, and a quartet from the Empire State Youth Orchestra. Locally-based vendors, including Clinton Street Mercantile and Riverside Maple Farms were also tabling at the event.
Discover Schenectady partnered with WEXT 97.7/106.1 as the radio sponsor for the event. WEXT's Chris Wienk said on Saturday at the concert that it only made sense for the station, considering the eclectic styles of music it plays, to work with Discover Schenectady to host an event that will showcase various types of music genres, and hopefully introduce people to music which they might not normally listen.
ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
Kristin Lombard, of Troy and owner of Krilo Art, works on a piece that will be given away to a follower during the inaugural Discover Schenectady’s Summer Kick Off Event at Music Haven in Schenectady’s Central Park in Schenectady on Saturday, June 7, 2019.
"For us, it makes a lot of sense since we're eclectic anyway, so it makes sense for us to be a part of this," he said.
One challenge in planning the event, Wienk said, was finding a venue that would be large enough and open enough to host all of the bands, one after another.
Central Park's Music Haven Stage turned out to be the perfect choice, he said: with an expansive seating area right in front of the stage with enough room to walk around, people would be able to come and go as they please, or would be able to find plenty of seating in the theater's back row of benches in the shade.
Though the theater was only moderately filled at the beginning of the event, Wienk was confident that as people heard the music they would wander over to see the shows, and hoped that there would be a full house for the last band. The day's almost-perfect weather was also helping out, he said.
"I think anyone who is at the park will come over at that point," he said.
ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
David Gleason on piano with Jazz Vibes, performs onstage during the inaugural Discover Schenectady’s Summer Kick Off Event at Music Haven in Schenectady’s Central Park in Schenectady on Saturday, June 7, 2019.
Mabel Leon was sitting in one of the first few rows at the theater listening to Jazz Vibes' set, sporting a large sunhat to protect her from the unobstructed rays shining down. Leon said she had a full Saturday on her plate, and was in between organizing a few events herself. But the concert was her opportunity to take a breather.
"I'm enjoying myself. They're really very good," said Leon, who lives in the city's Stockade neighborhood.
Marie Klucina, also of Schenectady, was in the audience enjoying Jazz Vibes with friend, Christine Martin. The two were sitting together on a bench back from the stage, nodding their heads along to the music.
"I came because it's a beautiful day and I love jazz. And it's great that it's free," Klucina said. The proximity of the concert to her home didn't hurt either, she said.
Tabitha Clancy, also with WEXT, was looking forward to seeing how the day's shifting audience reacted to all of the different types of music scheduled.
"There's all different walks of life, and there are all different types of music," she said.