Annual concert series returns for 17th year, bringing in new bands and old favorites
By Anthony King | SDUN Editor
Five “fun-filled” Friday nights are returning to Trolley Barn Park in University Heights, with the start of the 17th annual Summer in The Park concert series Friday, July 5. Staged weekly through Aug. 2, the free shows bring together residents, visitors and businesses for a relaxing – and community-building – time.
Ernie Bonn of the University Heights Community Development Corporation (UHCDC), the organization primarily responsible for staging the concerts, said they started the series as a way to “bring back the community’s enjoyment of the park,” calling the effort grassroots.
“We originally started with a street fair, and we felt it didn’t help the businesses,” Bonn said. “By moving everything into the park, we got greater support.”
Referencing Jane Jacobs’ “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” – a classic text criticizing urban-planning policy that brings decline to city neighborhoods – Bonn said they wanted to both be responsible for and have a stake in University Heights.
The 2013 concert series will feature a different band each Friday through Aug. 2 for two hours starting at 6 p.m. Bonn said they have almost 20 bands contact them each year to be a part of the series, though they can not accommodate all.
Opening the 17th annual series is Rodello’s Machine on July 5, followed by the Stoney B Blues Band, by popular demand Friday, July 12.
“Stony B was so popular at last year’s concert, that we had to ask him back,” the UHCDC said in a press release.
Rodello’s Machine is made up of Nate Donnis and Kolby Knickerbocker, and their sound has been compared to Fleet Foxes, Mumford and Sons, and Wilco. They have a unique style of indie folk-rock, and formed in early 2010.
“Once we met and learned we shared similar skill sets, common interest in song creating and [a] willingness to go the mile in the music industry, we saw an opportunity to create great music,” Donnis said on the band’s website. Donnis is a native of New York who moved to Southern California, and Knickerbocker hails from Georgia.
They released their self-titled debut album March 2012, and Knickerbocker said they hoped to use it as a way to increase their fan base. The release party was held at the Griffin, off Morena Boulevard.
Following Stoney B July 12, the July 19 concert features Theo & the Zydeco Patrol, a Southwestern Cajun-music band. On July 26, the Bill Magee Blues Band will take the stage, and a “perennial” favorite, the UHCDC said, Sue Palmer & Her Motel Swing Orchestra will close out this year’s series Aug. 2.
While sponsored by the UHCDC and the San Diego County Enhancement Program – in a partnership with the San Diego Park and Recreation Department and the University Heights Recreation Council – event cosponsors and individual donations help support the series, making it possible to return year after year.
Bonn and the UHCDC said community involvement is a key component to the series, and they are encouraging everyone to give back by partaking in a “pass the hat” donation each night. Attendees can also give back by frequenting the neighborhood businesses.
“Pick up a pizza at our local pizzeria, order takeout for your picnic dinner or eat beforehand at one of our great UH restaurants for a short walk back to the park,” the UHCD said.
Bonn said businesses can expect to be busy both before and after the shows, which end at 8 p.m. “There’s a lot of activity on the street,” she said, and the UHCDC is asking everyone to be responsible and safe.
Recognizing that parking is difficult in University Heights on a regular Friday night, the UHCDC said it is “tougher still” to find street parking during the concert season. They recommend walking, biking or taking public transportation to the events. Metro San Diego bus route 11 serves Adams Avenue.
Bonn also said using the car-share program car2go, an event sponsor, was a good option for getting to the park. The company will have information available before and after the shows, and Bonn said they may bring a vehicle to show.
There will be additional portable bathrooms onsite, as well as plenty of trash and recycling containers, and organizers are asking that people take out what they bring into the park. Glass containers, alcohol and smoking are all restricted, due to City regulations. Pets are allowed during the concerts.
“Fans of our Friends of the UH Library book sales can also rejoice,” the UHCDC said, as the library group will be returning to sell books to attendees. All proceeds from the book sales go back to the University Heights Branch Library.
Both Brooklyn Dogs Mobile Cart and Mrs. Frostie will also be returning to sell treats.
Old Trolley Barn Park is located at 1998 Adams Ave., near the intersection of Adams Avenue and Florida Street and two blocks east of Park Boulevard. To become a sponsor or for more information on the series, visit uhcdc.org or call 619-297-3166.