The Depot launches summer concert series 

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It’s tough to keep a good thing going for 15 years; ask any couple or antique car owner.

This year’s Summer Breeze Concert Series marks the 15th year of The Depot as a live music venue.

“We are very excited about this year’s lineup,” said Shari Ransley Jackson, The Depot’s executive director. “We have a committee ... that is very good at listening to the community and finding out what people want to hear.”

Musical offerings this year include a combination of national and local acts. National acts include mountain music from Virginia’s The Steel Wheels, Kelly Willis from Austin and — in a Depot first-ever Members Choice Concert — Celtic Folk-Americana from The Elders out of Kansas City, Missouri.

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“We like to be able to draw a lot of people out to the park with a bigger name, and that helps bring crowds to the park to showcase some of the really incredible talent we’ve got here locally,” Jackson said.

The series’ first performers — The Handsome Devils, a Norman-based quartet — have waited very patiently for their chance to play at Summer Breeze. Jackson said the group combines folk, rock, blues, rhythm and blues and jazz into a rootsy, Southern, Americana sound.

“Those poor guys got bumped twice last year,” Jackson said. “Illness in the band caused us to reschedule, and then their reschedule date got rained out.”

Other Oklahoma-based bands include psychedelic country from Mama Sweet, Americana from husband-and-wife duo North Meets South, jazz-infused hip-hop from Adam and Kizzie and Latin pop-rock from octet Tequila Azul.

Everyone welcome

The shows have remained free and open to the public for the past 15 years. Jackson credits The Depot’s supporters like Oklahoma Arts Council and Norman Arts Council for grants and other Norman-based donors who give generous support that helps make such a series possible.

“I think that Summer Breeze is one of the best examples of the power of public funding for the arts,” she said.

Still need motivation to take in a Summer Breeze show?

“It’s the perfect way to end your weekend and recharge for your week,” Jackson said. “It’s you and 2,000 of your best friends in the park for a free show on a Sunday night in the summer, when the sun hits the edge of those trees and it’s nice and breezy outside but not smoldering hot.”

These family-friendly concerts begin 7:30 p.m. every other Sunday from May 17 to Aug. 23 at Lions Park, on the corner of Flood Avenue and Symmes Street in Norman.

Concertgoers are encouraged to bring comfortable seating and their favorite refreshments since no vendors are allowed. Pets are welcome.

For more information, click the Summer Breeze Concerts link under “Our Programs” at pasnorman.org.

Built in 1909, The Depot was a railroad station until passenger service ended in 1979, according to the venue’s website.

In the ’80s, citizens helped restore the building, which was listed in the National Register of Historic places in 1991. In ’99, the venue resumed its original use when passenger service was restored to Norman.

Since 2003, the location has been opened to the Norman community as the railway station and a gallery and concert venue.

Events at The Depot also include the Winter Wind Series, Whistle Stop Concerts, poetry readings and jazz performances. The venue also can be rented for community events.

Art by Norman and regional artists also is exhibited throughout the year with bimonthly receptions, according to its official website. The gallery is free and open to the public.


Summer Breeze Concert Series Schedule

May 17: The Handsome Devils

This quartet bends the spectrum of music from folk, rock, blues, R&B and jazz into Americana. Rootsy and laid back, these musical storytellers play honest music rife with hooks.

May 31: The Steel Wheels

This national act has played its mountain music to audiences across the United States. Based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virgina, this four-piece string band combines old-fashioned music with original sounds and style.

June 14: Kelly Willis

This rockabilly and “heartache-meets-honky-tonk voice” is sure to win you over. Singer/songwriter Kelly Willis is a storyteller and musician who mixes country and rock and is noted for her “clear, unadorned vocal style and her fresh-faced beauty,” according to passnorman.org.

June 28: Mama Sweet

Its first gig at The Deli in 2002 preceded its first album and started the group on the road to playing gigs outside the state with prominent regional acts. It’s labeled as many things: Red Dirt rock, Southern Americana, bluegrass funk and even psychedelic country. Mama Sweet’s second studio album, 21 echo was released in December.

July 12: North Meets South

Made in Oklahoma, this band’s Americana music is comprised of husband-and-wife duo Joie and John Johnson on vocals and guitar, respectively.

July 26: Adam and Kizzie

These two always give their best for their art. With his guitar skills and her voice, they merge the worlds of R&B, soul, jazz and hip-hop to form music that is both beautiful and emotive.

Aug. 9: Tequila Azul

The band features Adriana Brito on vocals, Armando Rivera on congas, Cecelia Vargas on vocals, Edgar Salazar on bass, Hector Lopez on guitar, Ivan Castillo on vocals and guitar, Paulo Valles on drums and Ricardo Sasaki on keyboards. Come prepared to dance.

Aug. 23: The Elders, a Members Choice Concert

Founded in 1998 with a passion for Americana and Celtic folk, The Elders meld both genres with storytelling and progressive, yet traditional, music, earning the band a varied international fan base. With six studio albums, four live albums and one complication album and three DVDs to its name, The Elders are sure to impress.


Summer Breeze

Concert Series

7:30 p.m. Sunday through Aug. 23

Lions Park

1800 Northcliff Ave., Norman

pasnorman.org

307-9320

Free


Print headline: Summer swoon, The Depot kicks launches its seasonal concert series with The Handsome Devils, The Steel Wheels, Kelly Willis, Mama Sweet and North Meets South.

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