Rocking in the rock garden

Friday, May 25, 2012
Bill Booth performed acoustic rock and blues at the Rock in the Rock Garden concert Friday in Jackson City Park. (Fred Lynch)

The city of Jackson is making sure one of its parks sounds as good as it looks next month.

Jackson Parks will host a set of five Friday night concerts in June, with each concert starting at 7:30 p.m. The series, called Rock in the Rock Garden, is organized by members of Friends of the Park (who co-sponsors the concerts) and started in 2007 with only a few outdoor concerts in the city park's rock garden. But, according to Jackson Parks director Shane Anderson, the event has grown while still holding on to its relaxed atmosphere.

"You've got great music set on a beautiful backdrop with friendly people. It's just a very comfortable event to attend," Anderson said. "We're always very proud of how this comes out. Every year more people come, and we get great feedback."

Local singer and songwriter Doug Rees, who has played every year of Rock in the Rock Garden, says this event is always one of his favorite stops of the year.

"Not only do I love playing in the rock garden, I love going to the other shows and hearing these great original musicians do their thing," said Rees, who closes out the series this year June 29. "There are a bunch of these local outdoor concert events, and this is as good as any of them. Only we have the natural surroundings where we play here."

Dan Bliss, a fingerstyle acoustic guitarist, will kick off Rock in the Rock Garden on June 1. Bliss is known for his narrative stories, and a similarity to contemporaries Leon Redbone and Django Reinhardt. His sound is rooted in blues, jazz, ragtime and folk. Anderson says this is representative of what one can expect all month.

"We are essentially a blues and jazz series. And it's not that we have a rule against other things, but the setting and atmosphere provided just steer things that way," Anderson said. "We are lucky to have Ted Clark, who's been a good booking agent, as well."

Anderson says Clark, owner of Stooges Bar and Grill in Jackson, has all the right connections and a great understanding of how to book a good show. Besides Bliss and Rees, other performers in this year's set include Nashville bluegrass duo Sons of the Middle Class on June 8, Iowa acoustic soul guitarist Lojo Russo on June 15, and Boston folk rocker Amelia White plays June 22.

"These are respected artists who are visiting us. It's exciting," Rees said. "It's safe to say you wouldn't regret coming out, even if you don't know the band. This is good music all-around."

Anderson says the music at the rock garden normally brings out a decent number of people, and he expects that trend to continue.

"We have an average of about 150 folks per show, but the whole area can take up to 300," Anderson said. "It's definitely possible that one or two of these shows could generate that kind of excitement."

He suggested people coming to the concert bring their own chairs or blankets. Food and drink are allowed. He said people are also welcome to bring wine or beer, but no glass containers are allowed in the park for safety reasons.

The concerts are free and located at the Rock Garden in Jackson. In case of bad weather, concerts will be moved to Stooges. For more information, call Jackson Parks and Recreation at 204-8848.


Pertinent address:

800 Stoneyledge Drive, Jackson, MO

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: