Nothing feels more like summer to me than a wide grassy knoll, a picnic basket, wonderful music and pint-sized kids dancing with abandon. It brings back sweet memories of Seattle summertimes with my own (now adult) children and of my own twirling childhood as well.
Which is why I’ve made it a goal to attend the remaining concerts in the Summer Series at the Volunteer Park Amphitheater, running Thursday nights through August 18. Performances start at 6 p.m. and usually are wrapped up by 8:30 p.m.
During last week’s concert (excellent musical performances by singer-songwriters Alec Shaw and Zan Fiskum) troupes of preschoolers swayed and jiggled by the stage as relaxed but watchful parents lounged on blankets. Older kids actually watched the performers rather than scrolling. Families quietly played games.
I sat balancing my picnic plate on my knees – as did the group of elderly women on the blanket next to me – taking in the music and the unbridled joy of children being children on a carefree summer evening. Although everything has changed in this, the COVID era, here was a moment of return. A moment of old-fashioned family fun, listening, releasing pent up energy (kids) and worry (parents) as a cool breeze settled down the heat of the day.
The summer concerts are the first offered at the new amphitheater at the heart of the Volunteer Park and they are part of a long-awaited launch for a stage upgrade that was seven years in the making. The stage and its attached building (including new gender-neutral restrooms) is the first new building for Volunteer park in 50 years. The project was guided by the Volunteer Park Trust.
Unlike the older concrete-and-brick stage it replaced, the new amphitheater is ADA-accessible. It was also designed with a custom-designed floor to support future professional dance performances. If someone in your family loves dance, don’t miss the performance August 11. When not used for performances, its back wall will swing backward, creating a covered pavilion.
But on Thursday nights through mid-August it will be in use, filling the air with the works of talented musicians and filling attendees young and old with wonderful summer memories.
Upcoming performances include:
- Kalimba Spirit of Earth Wind & Fire with Tomo Nakayama on July 28
- “An Evening of Latin Jazz” with Raul Midon, Alex Cuba, Jovino Santos, and Neto on August 4
- “Dance, Dance, Dance!” with Lucien Postwaite, Whim W’him, The Seattle Project and Dance Church on August 11
- “Women in Song” with Star Anna, Alessandra Rose, Eugenie Jones and V. Contreras on August 18
Summer Series at Volunteer Park concerts are free. All ages are welcome. Well-behaved pets are welcome.