Alive After Five, the wildly popular concert series that has served as a summer staple in downtown Clinton the past three years, is striking up the band for its fourth this week.
The 2014 Alive After Five Summer Concert Series, again presented by the Sampson Arts Council, City of Clinton and Sampson County, will offer free public concerts on the third Thursday of each month, May through August, at the Clinton City Market on Lisbon Street. And, new this year, an expanded fall concert accompanying the summer shows will be held in conjunction with October’s Court Square Street Fair.
The 2014 Summer Concert Series will feature Jim Quick & Coastline this Thursday, May 15. Band of Oz will provide the entertainment next month, on Thursday, June 19, followed by The Magnificents on July 17 and Steve Owens & Summertime on Aug. 21.
On Thursday, as with all the shows, “gates” will open at 5 p.m. with DJ Robert Stroud of the Boogie Shoes Radio Network playing music leading up to the headliners. The concert will begin at 5:45 p.m. and last until 8:45 p.m. Those shows all feature a sponsor’s reception, at which food and drinks are offered. Without those sponsors, and the rest of the community, the series would not be a success, organizers have said.
“We are thankful that the community and the sponsors have supported Alive After Five,” said AA5 Committee member Mary Rose. “That’s what keeps us motivated to put on the best event possible and keep making it bigger and better. Without the sponsors and the community really enjoying the event, we couldn’t have it. That’s what makes it so wonderful.”
Last year, the series tallied a total of 107 sponsors and raised over $101,000 in cash contributions and in-kind donations. This year, the event boasts similar support, organizers say.
From the event’s inception in 2011, even in the planning stages leading up the inaugural event, it has truly been a community effort to put on something worthwhile and free to everyone, an event that families across Sampson and surrounding counties could really enjoy while in the process visiting a growing downtown Clinton and supporting local merchants.
AA5 committee members — along with Rose, the committee includes Ray Jordan, Vickie Crane, Kara Donatelli, David Jenkins, Rex Moody, Lyle Moore, J.W. Simmons and Robert Stroud — have urged everyone to visit the downtown to take in live music, as well as enjoy cool beverages, good food and local vendors. Touted as a family-friendly event, the concert series offers a quality show with no cost to concert-goers, they said.
Sponsors are vital to the series, Jordan said, with hundreds of people pitching in to ensure that AA5 is successful.
“We are confident that the 2014 AA5 Series will draw people from Sampson and surrounding counties and we are positive that adding the concert series to the street fair will draw even more people to our community and will increase the economic impact within our community and for local businesses,” the AA5 committee said in a statement.
This year, in addition to the four shows, the concert series is skipping a September show in favor of offering a full day of music at Clinton’s annual Court Square Street Fair in October.
Through a partnership between the AA5 Committee and the City of Clinton, free performances will be offered throughout the festival, at 6-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10, when The Fantastic Shakers take the stage.
“It’s a great kickoff to the street fair,” said Jordan. “That’s exciting. We’ll be having entertainment all day Saturday. That will be a tremendous boost for the street fair and great exposure for our sponsors. That will be a boost from five events to 11 concerts.”
Rose said a Steering Committee meeting for the street fair was to be held Monday, at which those festivities and the new concert addition would be discussed. That may include a possible re-branding effort for this year’s fall event, which could receive a new face and name as a result, but that is up in the air.
For now, Rose said she was happy to have five shows on the slate, including one that took the summer series into the fall.
“We are very excited about this expansion,” she remarked.
Following the Shakers’ Friday night show on Oct. 10, the music will start again at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, with a line-up of free concerts will be held throughout the day of the fair itself, featuring Gospel, Latino, country, beach and Top 40 music. For that October event, there is no sponsor’s reception and the stage will be set up at the parking lot in front of the Clinton Rail Depot, at 205 W. Elizabeth St.
New to concerts this year will be the presence of a BrightBoard, a large “jumbotron”-type digital screen that will display video of people dancing and other sights throughout the event in real-time, as well as scroll through the names and logos of various sponsors and other event information.
Jordan said he is looking forward to the additions to the event, while keeping intact the foundation of partnerships, local participation and sponsorships that have made the summer event such a success. Rose agreed.
“The partnership between the Sampson Arts Council, Sampson County and the City of Clinton is a natural partnership, which, with the support of our sponsors, works very well,” Rose has said.
For more information about AA5, call the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center at 910-592-6451 or visit the revamped Alive After Five website at aliveafterfiveclintonnc.com.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.