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'Music Under the Stars'

Long-standing free concert series continues offering residents an early break from the week.

Nearly every Thursday night in the summer when temperate and clear weather settles over the town, Herndon resident Martin Calhoun meets with a group of about a half-dozen fellow residents to jog from his home to Herndon’s Town Green.

Their ultimate destination: Herndon’s "Music Under the Stars," a more than 20-year-old Thursday night free concert series that features an eclectic range of regional musical acts.

"This is just our annual summer activity, we do it every year," said Calhoun, a federal government worker, while sitting on the town green prior to the start of last week’s show. "It’s nice to sit back after running, you get a little exercise, and you get the chance to socialize and listen to good music."

Herndon’s free Thursday night concert series — renamed Music Under the Stars four years ago — is offered to Herndon residents every Thursday from early June to mid-August, according to Abby Kimble, marketing specialist for the Town of Herndon. A more tranquil alternative to the often raucously social atmosphere of Herndon Chamber of Commerce’s Friday Night Live event, Music Under the Stars, which is run by the town with the help of corporate sponsors, brings a range of music from folk to acoustic rock, she added.

PRE-DATING FRIDAY NIGHT Live, which was introduced to Herndon in 1994, the Thursday night free concert series has been provided in the Town of Herndon since the early 1980s, according to Kimble.

"This event is probably more appealing to purely the Herndon residents, considering that it’s still the work week and people who live close can just walk or bike in to catch the music," she said. "And it’s more laid back, there’s no alcohol or food for sale … it’s more for families in the sense that it’s not as crowded and busy as Friday Night Live."

Relaxation for its attendees is key to Music Under the Stars, a fact that is exhibited in its more low-key atmosphere, Kimble said. That prevailing attitude is exhibited in the tranquility of the very place where the concerts are held, said Doug Segree, lead-singer for the Doug Segree Band that performed June 21 at the event.

"I mean, it’s a great spot, just look at it," Segree said while looking out at the crowd prior to his show. "This is just an absolutely beautiful place to play … and the community is just so supportive of music."

THE DIVERSITY IN styles of music that is presented every year at Music Under the Stars is one of its most defining characteristics of music, according to Kimble. This year’s line-up features blues, alternative country, acoustic soul and rhythm and blues musicians.

"It runs the whole gamut of musical genres, it’s really just an eclectic mix of music," she said, "we try and bring all types of music out for the residents to enjoy."

That mix is just one of the reasons that Herndon resident and account manager Jack McNulty comes "several times" a year with his four children to the event.

"It’s free, the music is always great, it’s a great way to introduce the kids to a real great diversity of music," McNulty said. "It’s just a wonderful way to spend the summer, you can’t beat it on a Thursday night."

For Segree, Herndon is a great place for bands to play in.

"It’s great that they do this for the entertainment of their citizens, and it’s great that they’re so enthusiastic about this," he said. "In Herndon, some of these people know us, but a lot of them don’t, but they’re still here."

"They come out here every night ‘cause they know a good band is going to be here playing some good music."