July 16, 2009

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Market Days (and nights) has music, too
Concord’s annual downtown fest features Jimmy LeHoux, others
By Katie Beth Ryan music@hippopress.com

She’s only been on the job a few months, but Main Street Concord Executive Director Jessica Eshleman knew that keeping it local was the key to success when planning the 35th annual Dunkin’ Donuts Market Days and Summer Music Festival. The other ingredient that’s kept visitors returning to the capital city since the mid-1970s is the variety of activities, artists and musicians the festival manages to attract.

“It’s deliberate,” she said. “We very much try to infuse new sounds and also explore a variety of sounds, so if an attendee likes one type of music but not another type of music, they won’t want to leave…. It’s intentional so we can attract the widest demographic possible.”

New to this year’s festival is a partnership with the Concord Arts Market, a farmers’ market-style area in Eagle Square where artists sell their pieces, as well as yoga demonstrations by Concord’s six yoga studios and a sidewalk-chalking festival. The festival’s main stage will feature out-of-town acts like The Grift and The Stompers on Saturday night, local favorites like Club Soda and blues act Mr. Nick and the Dirty Tricks on Friday, and the Jimmy LeHoux Band will headline the festival on Thursday. LeHoux’s band has managed to develop a strong local following, despite the lack of a cohesive country scene in southern New Hampshire.

“I think there’s a lot of different styles, different genres in the city and I think that’s what makes it unique, that you can go to any place and hear different styles, different genres of music,” LeHoux said. “And when it’s played well, it doesn’t really matter where you’re playing it.”

LeHoux’s band is an anomaly with nearly all its original members still playing together. Due to release a new album later this year, LeHoux said that the band’s philosophy of “God first, family, and the band” has been a key component in their success.

“We’ve been very fortunate in the sense that our band is more of a family,” he said. “We always say it’s God, it’s family, then music. We kind of stick to that. When we all started out, half the band was single, no kids, and now we all have kids and homes. And we’re still the best of friends. That’s kind of a unique situation.”

LeHoux’s show will open not with another local act but with a main-stage local trivia session sponsored by the Barley House. And even more local acts will be featured on an expanded “homegrown stage” for local musicians in Bicentennial Square, keeping in tune with the local flavor of the festival.

“That is going to be everything from folk to funk to jams, and one dance troupe is going to come,” Eshleman said. “The caliber of talent that came through when people were sending demos in was so strong that we realized we needed to find another spot to give people another place to play.”

“The biggest thing we want to show them is that it’s family fun. I don’t do anything I wouldn’t do in front of my kids. It’s definitely family-oriented music. The crowd gets involved…. We just want to show people that we’re still around. We’ve been around for 12 years and we’re still doing what we love to do,” LeHoux said.

The 35th annual Dunkin’ Donuts Market Days and Summer Music Festival will take place on Concord’s Main Street from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday June 16, 17 and 18. More information is available at www.mainstreetconcord.com.


If you go
Concord’s Market Days and Summer Music Festival
Thursday, July 16: Downtown Concord Trivia, Jimmy LeHoux
Friday, July 17: Mr. Nick and the Dirty Tricks, Club Soda
Saturday July 18: The Grift, The Stompers