Local musicians ready to rock for Jackson concert series

Friday, June 4, 2010

The rock garden in Jackson City Park will liven to the sounds of local artist Bruce Zimmerman today as the city's summer concert series, Rock in the Rock Garden, kicks off its second year.

According to Jackson Parks and Recreation Department director Shane Anderson, Zimmerman is new to the series. Zimmerman will be accompanied by Ken Keller, a bassist for local bands including Zimmerman's Water Street Band, which plays in downtown Cape Girardeau at Port Cape.

"We're going to do some original material and what we think will be crowd favorites," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said he is looking forward to participating in the series because he likes to play in more intimate settings like the park.

"They approached us, and we like playing in that kind of atmosphere, and I had a friend who played there before and really enjoyed it," Zimmerman said.

Doug E. Rees -- Zimmerman's friend -- is next up for the series June 11, followed by his cousin, local country artist Mark Rees, on June 18. The series will conclude with a performance by Casey Benefield on June 25.

Anderson said the concert series was well-attended last year, with an average of 125 people in the audience each week. In 2006, the garden was restored by the city with the help of area gardeners. Monthly summer concerts beginning in 2007 spurred the creation of the series in 2009.

Anderson said the sets last two hours, but the performers will often play longer if the crowd decides they want more and begin to "pass the hat" to collect offerings for the performers.

The park board has considered extending the series beyond one month, Anderson said, but as with everything, there is a budget issue.

The city received a grant to pay the performers, but the cost to attend is free.

"We have thought about it, and if we do, I like the idea of having two halves, like Tunes at Twilight, where they take a break over the Fourth of July holiday and the very hot months and then pick back up later in the summer," he said.

Although there are no plans to extend the series this year, Anderson said he thinks plans to do so are drawing closer.

The concerts begin at 7 p.m. each Friday in June. Attendees should bring lawn chairs or blankets. No glass containers are allowed.

The rock garden is on Cascade Drive just off North High Street in Jackson's City Park. Parking is available in a lot above the garden and behind the park's maintenance building.

In the event of rain, concerts will be canceled.

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