In wake of global warming and an economic recession, what better way to uplift your spirits than by listening to free music amidst Champaign-Urbana’s natural beauty? And, no, this is not just another “go green” advertisement.
From May 10 to September 8, you can acknowledge both the environment and your bank account when the Champaign Park District continues its annual Summer Concert Series in Champaign-Urbana. Watch local talent for free at various parks throughout the area while becoming more in tune with the CU community.
The concerts will feature a Wednesday night series that takes place in neighborhood parks along with a Sunday night series that takes place in both Hessel Park and West Side Park Bandshell. The series will also feature “Eat to the Beat,” a concert series from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on the first Friday of every month at West Side Park, where locals can enjoy live music during their lunch breaks.
Both local and major acts will come to perform at the Summer Concert Series. Some performers include The No Secret Band, The Impalas, The Decatur Park singers and Ryan Groff of Elsinore.
“We’re trying to target all ages,” said Katie Flint, special events manager at the Champaign Park District. “It’s really neat because we see all different types of people who come out to enjoy the concert.” The concert series covers genres from country, Latin, jazz, blues, show tunes, acoustic, bluegrass and more, she said.
In addition to their swing dance fans, Jim Markum of the Jim Markum Swing Band said there is usually a diverse crowd when they perform at Hessel Park.
“The one thing about our group is that we play music from the swing era, pop tunes, a lot of big band tunes,” Markum said. “We [play] a little bit of music for everybody.”

While the concert series is free — reason enough for college students to attend — it’s also an opportunity for locals in CU to get together and enjoy what the Champaign Park District’s parks have to offer.
“The biggest [goal] is being able to provide an opportunity for the community to get together and enjoy our parks,” said Flint. “It’s an opportunity to provide free family entertainment that people can enjoy together, especially during the economic state that we’re in.”
For U of I students, it’s an especially good way to get out into CU and experience what it has to offer, Flint said.
“This gets [students] out to the parks to gain a better appreciation of the community … while hearing some great, free music in the process,” said Flint.

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