By Stephen Vance, Staff
The Inner Harbour area of Owen Sound was alive with the sounds of Cuban music on Sunday night as the Harbour Nights Concert Series held their first outdoor concert of the season.
Any municipality – including Meaford – could learn much from what has been developed in Owen Sound with this event now in it’s 9th year.
Doug Cleverley, Event Facilitator for the City of Owen Sound told The Independent that while it is his job to coordinate the concert series which features eight nights of music at the harbour leading up to the popular Summerfolk Festival, it is the partnership with business sponsors, and public donations that really allows the event to continue.
“The city pays for some of the incidental costs, but the idea is that the series is supposed to pay for itself through sponsorship and donations,” explained Cleverley.
As far as community events go, you can’t really find a more perfect formula.
There is no cost to attend, though there is a place to offer donations, so everyone no matter their circumstance is welcome and able to enjoy the concert series.
The local business community is engaged through sponsorship of the event. Major sponsors for this year include TD Canada Trust, and the three local Bayshore Broadcasting radio stations- Mix 106.5, Country 93, and CFOS. Individual evenings are presented by other sponsors such as The United Way, and Wightman Telecom.
Local talent is the focus of the series, which is definitely good for the local arts and culture sector.
This past Sunday, hundreds of people set up lawn chairs in front of the stage located at the rear of the Owen Sound Visitor Centre to take in a musical act called Ricardo Barboza y Su Banda.
Many of the concert goers weren’t in those lawn chairs for long though, as Country 93 radio personality Donna Henry had barely introduced the band when the infectious Cuban music drew many of them onto their feet to dance the night away.
Cleverley explained that though there is an emphasis put on showcasing local artists, he does like to bring in at least one act during the series from beyond the borders of Grey-Bruce.
“It’s a balancing act because primarily our mandate is to promote and showcase really talented musicians from around the area, but because we are on the web, we get contacted from talent from all over,” said Cleverley, “So I’ve kind of made it a rule that every year we have one or two guest acts from outside the area.”
Ricardo Barboza y Su Banda are based out of Toronto and are comprised of a Venezuelan singer, and Cuban musicians. The band has been making music together for three years, and told The Independent that they love getting out of the city clubs and playing the outdoor concerts in smaller centres.
“Last week we played in Blue Mountain,” said the band’s singer Ricardo Barboza, “We love these shows, we love performing outdoors.”
There are six concerts remaining in this year’s series with the next being local act Beggar’s Road who blend traditional songs with authentic living traditions in Celtic folk music.
Additional photos from Sunday night’s performance can be found by visiting The Meaford Independent’s facebook page.
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