Family fun on a Friday night

God help the Southeast Missourian employee who leaves on a Friday afternoon. He'll never get back into the parking lot.

The building, if you've never been, stands watch on the corner of Broadway and Lorimier Street. We can see the N'Orleans out the front windows and the First Presbyterian Church and Common Pleas Courthouse out of the side. The employee parking lot is in the back, directly across from the park, which on Fridays during the summer fills with people waiting to hear that night's Tunes at Twilight musician.

The weekly music series starts today, as you saw on the front of SE Live. It enlivens downtown more than any other event -- or perhaps it just seems that way because everyone is concentrated in one area.

People -- about 600 to 700, according to Old Town Cape -- spread blankets and lawn chairs and unpack baskets of goodies starting about an hour before the show. They come, they go, children run around and dance. Everybody has a good time. No, really. Everybody. I've never seen an angry person at Tunes at Twilight.

They either leave because they can't bear to be around all those happy people or they get over it because, let's be honest, is there anything better to improve your mood than food, drink and outdoor music?

Last year, the Memphis, Tenn.-ramblin' man Jimmy Davis pleased the crowds and will come back for the second series of the 2010 concerts. The lineup includes several encore performances from past Tunes players including The Cantrells, Leslie Dysinger and Dennis Stroughmatt.

The young threesome Surtsey landed the local slot this year. Mark Aug. 20 in your calendar because this band is a talented group of musicians has the ability and feel for music most performers wish they could fake.

As an added feature to highlight this year's Tunes at Twilight, SE Live will run a small artist profile about each musician in Friday's paper. Look for it starting next week with Corinne Chapman.