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Sounds of Summer : Outdoor concerts offer a variety of talent and genres at a number of venues ranging from Santa Clarita to Agoura Hills.

June 04, 1993|STEVE APPLEFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Steve Appleford is a regular contributor to The Times

Outdoor summertime concerts of live jazz, rock, classical and country music are a longtime tradition in local parks. And some organizers are using the summer of 1993 to lengthen their seasons, increase their talent rosters or improve their venues.

This season's free concerts offer a variety of talent and genres, at venues from Woodland Hills to Agoura Hills to Santa Clarita. Among this year's sounds of summer will be the Big Band jazz of Les Brown and His Band of Renown, the classical music of the West Valley Symphony, the salsa jazz of Poncho Sanchez and the '60s rock of Spencer Davis.

"These concerts offer a true community enhancement," said Cecilia Burda, a recreation superintendent for Santa Clarita, which is offering concerts at six of its eight parks. "And it gives exposure to different types of music and entertainment to the residents. . . . It's a wonderful summer entertainment offering.

"It's free to the families, and it brings them to the parks, gets them outside together," she added. "Families can bring grandparents or teen-agers. There's something for everybody."

This marks the third year that Santa Clarita has offered the concerts, Burda said. Beginning the Fourth of July, the city's parks will offer 12 weeks of music and live theater, including a performance of Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale" on July 17.

With a lineup of talent that includes bluesmen Guitar Shorty and B. B. Chung King, both headlining their own nights in August at Old Orchard Park, this is also the longest series in the history of Santa Clarita's summer concerts.

"We get a total mix--young people, old people, lots of families," Burda said. "We can get anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000 people at one of these concerts."

In Woodland Hills, the popular "Concerts in the Park" series at Warner Park celebrates its 18th year with the debut Aug. 8 of the park's new permanent stage, designed to serve crowds that can swell to 10,000. That concert will feature "Entertainment Tonight's" John Tesh, Yerfadder's Mustache and Panache.

But on the park's old stage, the series actually begins months earlier, with a dance concert at 5:30 p.m. Sunday with Les Brown and His Band of Renown. Other acts listed on this year's schedule include the Kingston Trio on June 27, the Horace Heidt Orchestra on July 5 and the West Valley Symphony on Aug. 1.

The concerts are sponsored by the Valley Cultural Center; talent is chosen by committees that focus on a particular genre of music.

"We have hundreds of submissions for performers," said Loraine Weissburd, of the cultural center staff. "And we usually book the season in advance. When this season ends in September, we start looking at submissions for next year right away."

Weissburd, 23, said she's been attending these concerts since she was a teen-ager, when her father took her. "The acts are so appealing," she said. "When you can see an act like Les Brown or the Kingston Trio that you wouldn't otherwise be able to see for free anywhere, you just want to go see them."

Attendance averages 6,000, she said, with some name performers drawing well above that.

Agoura Hills and the Conejo Recreation and Park District are both offering a variety of music.

A July 4 concert beginning at 1:30 p.m. at Chumash Park in Agoura Hills features the family-oriented entertainment of Janet & Judy and the country-Western music of the Hot Billyboys later in the afternoon. At Conejo Community Park on the Fourth, the Conejo Pops Orchestra performs a 5 p.m. concert with singer Eugenia Hamilton "as Kate Smith," said Dale Sumersille, a recreation supervisor for Agoura Hills. The city cooperated with the Conejo Recreation and Park District in organizing the summer concerts. The ensemble returns to the park for another concert Sept. 6.

Sanchez brings his mix of salsa jazz to Chumash Park at 5 p.m. July 18, and Davis performs such hit songs as "Gimme Some Lovin' " and "I'm a Man" on Aug. 15 at Conejo Community Park.


What: Concerts in the Park, Warner Park, Topanga Canyon Boulevard at Califa Street, Woodland Hills.

When: Weekends through the summer.

Call: (818) 704-1358.

What: Santa Clarita concert series, various locations (Newhall Park, 24923 Newhall Ave.; Old Orchard Park, 25023 Avenida Rotella; Valencia Meadows Park, 25671 Fedala Road; Santa Clarita Park, 27285 Seco Canyon Road; Canyon Country Park, 17615 W. Soledad Canyon Road; William S. Hart County Park, 24151 N. San Fernando Road, and College of the Canyons, 26455 N. Rockwell Canyon Road).

Call: (805) 255-4910.

What: Concert series of Agoura Hills and the Conejo Recreation and Park District, various locations (Chumash Park, Media Valley Drive at Parkheath Drive, Agoura Hills; Conejo Community Park, Jeannine Drive at Gainsborough Drive, Thousand Oaks; Bennett Park, Agoura Road at Greengate Court, Westlake Village).

Hours: Call for specific dates and times.

Price: Free.

Call: (818) 597-7361.

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