This summer, the city of Florissant is bringing back it’s popular “Music Under the Stars” summer concert series. The ten part series kicks off on the 4th of July at Florissant Valley Park then continues weekly at St. Ferdinand Park.
Gary Gaydos, Theater Manger for the Florissant Civic Center Theater, said the decade old summer concert series began as two unrelated events. The Florissant Fine Arts Council hosted a series of outdoor summer concerts, while the Florissant Civic Center had a series of indoor concerts.
About a decade ago, the two groups decided to pool resources in order to create a single, well organized concert series.
One of the earliest grants funding the concerts specified they had to be free. Gaydos said they were very lucky to end up in a good relationship with the American Federation of Musicians local chapter.
“It’s become something the public really expects,” Gaydos said. “We start on the Fourth of July, go until fall, then have one last concert during the Old Town Festival. There’s so much wonderful talent in the St. Louis area. We bring in some unique St. Louis stars.”
“We’re kicking off July 4th with a 65 piece band. It’s big. They’ll have patriotic tunes, of course. There’ll also be musical comedy and some numbers from Annie, our big musical production this year,” said Gaydos.
The concert lineup also includes Fanfare, the Bob Kuban Brass Band and the Boeing Concert Band. Every year, Boeing employees get to choose where to contribute money in the Boeing Employees Fund. For the last several, they’ve contributed to the summer concert series.
“They also have an employee band based here in north county. Some of them live here in Florissant. Playing with us is a prestigious thing for their concert band," Gaydos said."These are regular guys who are engineers and who build jets and who happen to be great musicians.”
Vincent Galumpsky’s band, “Fanfare” has played the festival for the past eight years. He said his audience can expect a mix of motown, R&B and classic rock.
“It’s one of my favorite gigs. The people are so receptive and nice and warm and welcoming. It’s a nice experience," Galumpsky said. "They’re all there to hear music and have a good time as opposed to playing at a bar where there are a few other things going on."
Gaydos said the St. Ferdinand Park location contributed the the series success. It’s not unusual for concerts to attract more than 2000 people.
Bob Kuban of the Bob Kuban Band praised the venue.
“It’s one of the most ideal locations, right there in front of the lake with the ducks and geese. People can sit up on that big hill along with the trees. It’s beautiful," Kuban said. "You don’t have to worry about your kids, there are never any problems. You get the best of both worlds - the beautiful setting and the ample parking. I’ve played some concerts in rural areas that are hard to get to, beautiful places, but if people can’t park, they won’t come back.”
Bob Kuban worked with Chuck Berry for five years. Audiences can expect rock of the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Gaydos said he encourages people to bring their families and enjoy a picnic as part of the concert.
“Bring your seating. Bring your cooler. Bring your entire neighborhood," Gaydos said. "It’s a good time.”
People are also encouraged to bring along a designated driver if they decide to bring alcoholic beverages and a trash bag to collect any picnic materials they leave behind.
Starting July 16, the 7 p.m. concerts take place at St. Ferdinand park and alternate Saturday of one week and Sunday of the next for eight weeks.