It's nearly summer in Payson and the nights are just right for some outdoor concerts.
And if you live in Payson or are visiting on a Saturday night, six outdoor Concerts Under the Stars are planned for your listening pleasure.
These free concerts are held from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the grass amphitheater in Green Valley Park.
Each week's band has a different sound.
Lawn chairs, blankets, dancing and picnic baskets are optional.
June 17: Dyno-Glides
The rock-a-billy sound of the Dyno-Glides kicks off the concert series.
Kenny Love is the guitarist and vocalist, Kevin Lee Pate on upright bass and vocals and Brian Fahey on drums.
These three self-described rebels were a well received part of last year's series.
The song, "Black Slacks," an original song about cruisin' through town lookin' at the sights (wink, wink) met with applause. This reporter overhead several audience members comment that the band's original music was as good as anything composed in the 1950s.
"Baby, Baby, Baby," "Angeline" and "Things I Do" are other original pieces to listen for in addition to classics from Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran.
Rock-a-billy is the foundation of the rock 'n' roll music that a lot of the kids are listening to today, said Love, who started the band seven years ago.
They have produced two CDs, "Blast Off with the Dyno-Glides" and "It Takes Two to Tango." The band is now working on a third.
"We enjoy what we're doing and we hope the folks in Payson enjoy the performance as much as we enjoy performing for them," Love said. "We greatly appreciate the opportunity. We're looking forward to it."
June 24: SuperVibe
The next band's motto is "Music for your feet!"
"All of our stuff is danceable, that's the idea," said founder, lead guitarist and vocalist, Will Metzler. "No matter what genre -- classic rock, funk, disco -- it has to move people. We pick tunes that you want to clap your hands to, or ones that you know all the words so you can sing along."
SuperVibe formed when Metzler found percussionist Dave Marshall 18 months ago looking for a working band.
"He liked the formula -- feature a female vocalist and play radio-friendly dance hits," said Metzler.
Marshall plays Roland "V" electric drums because they allow for complete volume control for a perfect mix no matter the venue. He also sings lead on "White Wedding," "What I've Got" and "Jenny (867-5309)."
Keyboardist and bass player Chris Connally became the third member of the group. Connally plays keyboard and bass at the same time on, "Margaritaville," "We Got the Beat" and "Spooky" -- just to name a few.
Lisa Martina completed the band with her two-and-a-half octave range voice and spicy dance moves.
Band members' roots are wide ranging.
Metzler's are in hard rock, delta blues and fusion jazz. Marshall liked a contrast -- barbershop in school and Led Zeppelin and Rush on the stereo. Connally took up guitar as a teen, he played bass in the Phoenix College jazz band. Martina came from a Grand Ole Opry family. She started in dance and musical theater when she was 16 and hasn't stopped.
July 8: Igor's Jazz Cowboys
Igor Glenn loved music so much he created two bands -- Igor and the Cowboys and Igor's Jazz Band.
As bookings in resorts rose and venue managers requested horns, Glenn combined the two into Igor's Jazz Cowboys in 1980.
The band is from Phoenix and play Western cowboy and music from the deep South.
"I'm from Alabama and spent some time in New Orleans, so the music is sort of the music of my life," Glenn said. "I played Dixieland jazz in New Orleans and came out West and started to play Roy Rogers' cowboy songs."
The audience can expect everything from "When the Saints Go Marching In" to "Ghost Riders in the Sky" to "St. James Infirmary Blues."
What keeps a band together 20 years?
"Well, one compelling reason is I keep getting us gigs," Glenn said with a laugh.
Artistically he said the band's popularity is due to a three-pronged approach: the unusual mix of strings, horns and vocals.
"We're a rousing kind of group," he said. "We invite the audience to say ‘Yeehaw' and sing along."
July 15: Loose Cannons
Loose Cannons is the first of two blues bands in the series.
They play Chicago-style blues.
"(The blues) is music that people of all ages can understand and have since the dawn of man," said drummer, owner and manager, James Bailey. "It's simple music, uncomplicated and people who do not have musical educations can enjoy it.
"Even so, the improvisations of the lead instruments can be quite rhythmically involved. In fact it is these soloists in the blues form who were crucial to the development of jazz."
The Chicago sound came together in the late 1940s and early 1950s when delta bluesmen like Muddy Waters and Elmore James migrated to metropolitan areas. Their more sophisticated audiences wanted a bigger, louder sound than one musician alone could provide and the Chicago blues were born.
The Loose Cannons Blues Band features Luther Jackson, an accomplished -- and authentic -- blues vocalist who has been performing for more than 50 years.
Jackson is a vintage bluesman in the truest sense of the word, with a rich and earthy authentic voice. A quality which highlights his unorthodox, but consistent rhythm guitar style, Bailey said.
Saxophone player and vocalist Ben Hughes has written a number of songs.
"Hopefully the audience will ask for "Mo Willie," Bailey said.
This is the band's third gig in the Rim Country. Among their other performances here was an appearance a few years ago at the June Bug Blues Festival.
Bailey changes the lineup occasionally, but in addition to himself, Jackson and Hughes, the Loose Cannons Blues Band includes Jim Hill, bass; Thomas Oliver, lead guitar and vocals; and Dr. Fish, keyboards and vocals.
Other songs to listen for are: "Got My Mojo Workin'," "You May Talk About Your Woman" and "Feel Like Jumpin' Through the Keyhole in Your Door."
July 22: Top Cats
The Top Cats, the second blues band in the series, may be familiar to Rim Country residents as they have been playing local bar venues for years.
"We play seven or eight original songs in the lineup," said lead guitarist and vocalist T.C. Dustin.
The Top Cats play a mixture of jump blues, swing, roots rock and blues rock. Their play list includes blues tunes from the 1940s through the modern tunes of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
"We've played in quite a few different venues for all ages of audiences, so we are looking forward to playing in the park."
Dustin started the band six years ago when he thought there was an untapped market for three piece groups -- they cost a little less for clubs to book.
He, bassist and singer Steve Fasano and singer/drummer Barry Fisher (a Payson resident of a couple years) have been playing together for five years.
They've played gigs in New Mexico and Colorado as well and are headed to play at the International Blues Festival in Brazil in August.
July 29: Ellington Effect
According to Kyle Wilson, founder of the band, the name of their band was a term first coined by a friend of Duke Ellington's. "Ellington Effect" describes the fusion of sound created when different individuals with different musical backgrounds form a group.
"We're an original band, so we play a combination of original songs and throw in some covers," said Wilson of the working class Valley band he founded two-and-a-half years ago.
When drummer Chris Syllaba, Jay Byrdy on lead sax and Chris Baldwin on bass got together, the different genres of rock they had played before, became the alternative rock band they are today.
"We feel that we are very listener-friendly, good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll music," Wilson said.
"We've gotten radio play for our song ‘Once Again,'" Wilson said. "It's a song I wrote about believing in yourself and knowing what your path is."
Ellington Effect's single, "Down," is the most downloaded track from their Web site. Wilson also wrote it.
"‘Down' is sort of like a twisted take on a love song," he said. "The best way to describe it is, if you fall off a horse, you get back on it. The song dwells on thriving on the drama of being up and down with a relationship."
Ellington Effect is coming to Payson to have fun with the audience, fun with the music, and to not take themselves too seriously.
Independence Day Celebration
The country rock band, Western Fusion, will be playing in Payson as part of this year's Independence Day Celebration on Tuesday, July 4, at Green Valley Park.
For full preview of the day's activities, pick up a copy of the June 28 Rim Review.
Band Web sites
(The Top Cats do not have a Web site. They may be contacted at (480) 641-9655.)