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Music : Concerts Promise Splendor in the Grass : Live jazz, raggae, classical-- and Bobbo and Kookee--will keep the parks in harmony.

June 23, 1995|STEVE APPLEFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Steve Appleford writes regularly about music for The Times

Summertime in the park is more than picnics, swimming pools and softball in the San Fernando Valley. Look for some live music designed to satisfy a variety of tastes. And it's all free.

Sounds ranging from classical music to the blues are scheduled throughout the summer months. The goal is not only to entertain, say organizers, but to remind citizens that the parks are there for them and their families.

"It's mostly a quality-of-life issue," says Michael Marx, cultural arts coordinator for the city of Santa Clarita, which is presenting live music at its parks this summer. "We try to go to each park so we can bring the music right to the people and create that wonderful neighborhood atmosphere."

The largest roster of talent this summer, as in most recent years, has been assembled for the "Concerts in the Park" series at Warner Park in Woodland Hills. On July 2, Janet Carroll and her Dixieland All-Stars begin the show at 4 p.m., followed by the Pierce College Community Band and Premiere Chorale, which will present a "Tribute to America."


A July 9 concert headlined by the famed Preservation Hall Jazz Band begins with a children's show by the Nickel Creek Band; on July 16, show-tune singers Karen Benjamin and Alan Chapman open the concert, followed by Anna Maria Alberghetti singing standards, and the Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop; the Andes music of Kiya Runa and the rhythm and blues of Jack Mack and the Heart Attack arrive July 23.

The Horace Heidt Orchestra and the Roy McCurdy Jazz Quartet perform July 30; the West Valley Symphony Orchestra performs the music of George Gershwin on Aug. 6; Med Flory and the Big Name Band (featuring Supersax, the L. A. Voices and Sue Raney) are joined by Rebecca Rae and the Promises on Aug. 13. An Aug. 20 Latin music festival features Mariachi Los Gabilanes and the Poncho Sanchez Jazz Band; on Aug. 27, reggae act Urban Dread is joined by Triple Threat. The series concludes Sept. 3 with a children's concert with Bobbo and Kookee, and the Louis Bellson Big Band Explosion (with Dee Dee Bellson).

Meanwhile, in Agoura Hills, children's entertainer Dan Crow and the Thunderware Band perform a 1:30 p.m. concert July 4. And July 30, Mark Lindsay (former lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders) is joined by local roots rocker Carla Olson (founder of the Textones) for a 5 p.m. show.

Although Agoura has cut back its summer schedule to two concerts this year (down from four in previous years), city recreation supervisor Jennifer O'Hara is expecting some big crowds. "The community loves them," she says of the free concerts. "They look forward to them every summer. We start getting calls about them at the beginning of May.

"It's perfect timing, when kids aren't in school. It gives people something to do during the summer. And it keeps the family together, which we like to promote."

Nearby Conejo Community Park presents a wide variety of music this summer, beginning July 4 with a performance of American favorites (by Richard Rodgers, Lerner and Loewe, Cole Porter, among others) by the Conejo Pops Orchestra, conducted by Elmer Ramsey. The ensemble returns for an encore performance Sept. 4.

July 16, the Sweet Baby Blues Band (featuring Jimmy and Jeannie Cheatham) perform blues and gospel music. And Aug. 13, the bluegrass show is performed by the Acousticats. All the concerts begin at 5 p.m.

"We offer a good variety," so that diverse people can find their favorite kinds of music, says Conejo recreational services manager Steve Wiley. Some concerts, he adds, draw as many as 2,000 people. "A lot of people come to all of the concerts."

Similar crowds are expected at concerts scattered across the parks of Santa Clarita. The series peak comes early, with a July 4 "Stars and Stripes Festival" at Newhall Park, which is set to include entertainment from the Texas Flood blues band, the Zydeco Party Band and children's music from Wendee.

A July 9 "oldies show" in Old Orchard Park features the Round the Clock Show, featuring Bobby Cochran (nephew of rock 'n' roll pioneer Eddie Cochran and a veteran of the '60s rock act Steppenwolf). The 60-piece Symphony of the Canyons arrives July 16 for a concert featuring the music of various American composers.

July 23, Boom Shaka performs reggae at Santa Clarita Park, where fans are invited to listen while using the park's pool. "We'll have inner tubes for people to float around and listen to the concerts," says Marx.

El Vez and the Memphis Mariachis play July 30 at Newhall Park; the American-Made Band plays country Aug. 6 at Canyon Country Park; Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries play Aug. 13 at Newhall Park; the Harry James Orchestra performs its big band music Aug. 20 at Valencia Meadows Park, and the Drifters close the series Aug. 27 at Canyon Country Park.

These summer concerts have become a new tradition for some local neighborhoods. "People wait all year for this," Marx says of the Santa Clarita concert series, "and they've asked us to do it all year round."


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

Hours: Showtime at 4 p.m, weekends through the summer.

Call: (818) 704-1358.

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).

Call: (818) 597-7361 (for Agoura); 805-499-4355 (for Conejo).

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).

Call: (805) 255-4910.

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