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A Summer For the Arts

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Hula Monsters will perform on Aug. 1 as part of Mount Vernon Nights.

Adding to our days a little more than the scorching heat and the massive amounts of rain saturating the streets, this summer Alexandria City and Mount Vernon offer an electrifying array of concerts along with theatrical performances beginning early June to late August.

In Alexandria, the concerts will be held at four different locations with two performances in Old Town at Market Square, 11 at Fort Ward Park including the Theatrical "1776" performed by the Little Theater of Alexandria, two at Ben Brenman Park, and five at 44 Canal Center Plaza.

Mount Vernon is also host to a few music events. Fort Ward Park will have an array of music, from blues to country to Motown through July 27. Lee District Nights has two venues, one in Kingstowne at Hayfield Elementary School on Saturday nights and one at Lee District Park on Wednesday nights. The Mount Vernon Nights will host twelve concerts with all performances held at Grist Mill Park in Alexandria (Fairfax County) every Friday night beginning at 7:30 p.m., just off Route 1. These performances will include children puppet shows to jazz, rock, bluegrass, world, and classical music. All events are free and are expected to rock the house like Charles Bubeck’s act at Fort Ward Park last Thursday evening.

Despite the ominous clouds and slight drizzle that seem to worry some from the crowd, vibraphonist Charles Bubeck, drummer Tony Martucci and bass player Christ Kosks continued soothing the audience with their melodious chords. With exciting gestures like clapping, finger snapping and the tapping of the feet, the audience expressed their approval and enjoyment. Wrapping their arms around each other shoulder, the children gathered front-stage dancing what seems to be the river dance. The music was "relaxing" — a few neighbors laid on their blankets in far upper-left corner of the stadium said this is "a reason to come to the park, a good way to build the community." Holding what look like 4 drum sticks, two in each hand, with a round blue top the size of a ping-pong ball, Charles Bubeck striked the key with great force and speed creating high tempo chords then decreasing his momentum once again for a jazzier vibe.

After 19 years of marriage and of watching her husband perform, wife Linda Bubeck is still astonished by "how talented he is," she said.

Besides being a musician, Bubeck is a husband and father that "puts other husbands to shame" says friend Bob McClelland. "He packs his wife a lunch everyday and walks the kids to school."

Ending at 8:30 p.m., the band received a warm and a well appreciated applause that resonated throughout the park. Approaching the band, individuals from the audience introduced themselves and expressed their personal enjoyment, while others purchased CDs. When asked what he loved most about playing music, Bubeck’s response was "just the joy of it. It’s a great privilege, sharing the music with everyone".

OTHER PERFORMANCES INCLUDE the oldest and most renowned band in the City of Alexandria, the Alexandria Citizens Band, who played at Market Square, in Old Town. They will also perform again at Market Square, July 18, Aug. 1 and Aug. 8. The band has been playing and performing just three years shy of a century.

Beginning in 1912 with 40 or odd members, their first public performance was on Feb. 23, 1913 at the Alexandria George Washington Birthday Parade. The band members consisted of teenagers ages 16 to 18. Surviving two world wars, and may other ordeals in American history, the Alexandria Citizens Band has many accolades including 12 first place awards, seven second and two third place awards. The band’s longevity and consistency has definitely made them one among the city’s favorites.

Also scheduled to perform are the Alexandria Harmonizers on August 22, 7:30 p.m. at Market Square, Lisa Taylor (Acoustic Guitar) at 44 Canal Center Plaza, and if it’s too much music, try a play.

The Little Theater of Alexandria is anything but little. With nearly a one hundred and fifty volunteers and over two thousand subscribers, LTA, as it called by its staff, put on acts that attracts about 4,500 people. The volunteers contribute "nearly 30 hours per week" says President Carolyn Winters "it’s a commitment, but is something everyone loves to do". The theater also consists of a Board of Governors who direct, produces, and write the plays. Among those, is Frank Shuttz, governor of public relations, who has been serving LTA for many years and is also a performance arts teacher for LTA and at Bishop Ireton. For Frank, opening night is most excited because he loves the response from the audience. Located just off Washington St. heading south bound, at 600 Wolfe Street, The Little Theater of Alexandria will perform their signature play "1776" to highlight their 75th anniversary. The performances will begin July 26 – August 23, with one performance held at Fort Ward Park, 4301 W. Braddock Road.

For more information visit the city of Alexandria and Fairfax county government Web sites at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/performances/ or http://alexandriava.gov/recreation/ or the Special Events Hotline, 703-883-4686.