It’s still possible to go down by the riverside despite that huge blob of construction at Mayo Civic Center.
For those thousands of concert-goers who will attend the free concerts at Mayo Park, behind Mayo Civic Center, each Sunday night between now and Aug. 23, “There doesn’t seem to be any hindrance whatsoever,” said Chris Alcott, assistant general manager of Riverside Concerts, the arm of city government that promotes the series.
“If you’re coming from Center Street, all the green area will be open,” Alcott said. “If you’re coming in the art center side, the river walk will be open. And the bridge in the back of the park will be open.”
The only hangup is that the skyway that formerly connected the library parking ramp with the civic center and Mayo Park has been disconnected. If you park in that ramp, you’re going to have to cross Civic Center Drive at street level.
“We encourage people to walk or ride bikes if possible, but we would encourage that every year,” Alcott said. Additional bike racks are being placed in the park.
Overall, then, organizers are optimistic those who want to get to the concerts should do so, with at least some advance planning.
“What we’re expecting is it really shouldn’t be greatly affected,” Alcott said.
So, with access issues settled we can all turn our attention to the music and the fun that comes along with a summer night in the park.
First a couple of rules:
— No smoking in the park, no dogs, and no grills.
— You’re not allowed to claim your spot in advance with stakes and ropes. However, Alcott said, “You can leave your chairs as early as you want to. They might not be there when you get back, but we won’t take them.”
— When picking a spot, be aware that many of the folks close to the stage will be on their feet through most of the concert. “These are rock concerts and people will be standing, and often bands will encourage them to stand,” Alcott said. “We just ask that everyone take into consideration the feelings of those around them.”
By the time the seven-week season ends, audiences will have been treated to the Fabulous Thunderbirds (July 12), the hot new country of Eric Paslay, the ’70s soft rock of Firefall, the R&B of Sonny Knight & the Lakers, the alternative pop of Lucius, the traditional tunes of the Rochester Concert Band, and the classic folk-pop of America.
“We try to please all of the people some of the time,” Alcott said of the Down by the Riverside formula. “If there’s not something for you one year, we’ll try to hit that market segment the next year.”
It’s a formula that has worked well, and has been tweaked only slightly over the years.
“I think in recent years we have tried to be a little more envelope-pushing,” Alcott said. He pointed to Thao and the Get Down Stay Down in 2013, J. Roddy Walston and the Business in 2014, and Lucius this year as examples.
Traditionally, the season finale is the biggest draw, with attendance around 20,000 for the night. America, on Aug. 23, has that potential. “I think it could be a big night for us,” Alcott said.
But, he said, “I have heard the most buzz about Eric Paslay.” Already, 3,500 people have said on Facebook that they plan to attend Paslay’s show. “I’m not exactly going out on a limb calling this the sleeper of the summer,” Alcott said.