A Friday night full of music, family and community is what sponsors of Braddock Nights hope to achieve for the 11th straight summer.
“The summer concerts are our commitment to the community to bring them the magic of music in an intimate park setting,” said Sousan Frankeberger, the Fairfax County Park Authorities music coordinator for the concert series.
This year, Braddock Nights will include a third location, Ossian Hall Park, 7900 Heritage Drive, Annandale, in addition to Lake Accotink Park, 7500 Accotink Park Road, Springfield, and Royal Lake Park, 5344 Gainsborough Drive, Fairfax. Each location will offer a mix of musical performances, all of which will include something for everyone, said Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock).
“It’s a great variety of stuff,” said Bulova. “There will be bluegrass, classical, Irish, Creole and Latin music.”
Opening night this summer is Thursday, June 1, at Ossian Hall Park. “Night Music” will kick things off with classic rock songs and top 40 hits. The following evening, the “Falls Church Concert Band” will open the Accotink location with American marches, classics and Broadway show medleys, said the band’s membership director, Kathy Conway.
One of this summer’s highlights is “Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas,” performing July 28 at Royal Lake Park. Zydeco is a kind of Cajun dance music, mixing in African blues and R&B, with traditional Cajun-Creole jazz sounds. Frankeberger has seen the Cha Chas perform, and said they will be one of Braddock Night's biggest hits.
“They do an incredible job,” said Frankeberger. “They use washboards. It’s very lively.”
ANOTHER INTERACTIVE performance this summer will be from the United States Navy Band "Country Current." The band incorporates both contemporary and classic country music into the performance, and they also perform a variety of bluegrass songs too, said Chris Erbe, a band spokesperson.
"It's kind of a wide variety of country styles," said Erbe. "They're very entertaining."
Frankeberger said the Motown group “DC Soul” and the Latin group “Pablo Antonio y La Firma," will add some excitement to this summer's series. She said Pablo Antonio’s performance is fun and lively, and they really get into their act.
Bulova looks forward to Bavarian music from Alte Kameraden, the closing act at Lake Accotink, Aug. 25.
“It’s a whole little German party,” said Bulova. “People just love it.”
The swing bands are also popular with crowds, said Bulova, because they're very interactive. People come and dance and really get into the music, she said.
Bulova said part of the reason for adding Ossian Hall Park as a venue this year is to prevent gang-related activity near Annandale, where it has been problematic in the past.
“The police will tell you the secret from preventing crime is not to hide from the areas,” said Bulova. “It’s to be out in the community to discourage people who want to do something in secret.”
The concerts are all outdoors, and will be canceled for bad weather. The reason this free series is so popular, said Frankeberger, is because people can bring the whole family, a picnic, blanket or lawn chairs, and really have a fun evening.
“It’s for the community to get together,” said Frankeberger.
"It's such a wonderful community activity," said Diane Thompson, senior staff aide to Bulova.