PITTSFIELD — The Common on First Street is expanding its live performance repertoire, welcoming this month to the city green the Shire City Sessions.
The concert series debuted last summer at the Shire City Sanctuary, located about a block away on Melville Street.
Co-sponsored by CompuWorks and Interprint, the organizers say relocating to The Common gives them more room to work with in a natural setting compared to its original venue.
"The Common's intent is to be the hub of the community ... we'll love having the grassy expanse," said Alan Bauman of CompuWorks. Last year's series was held in the parking lot of the Shire City Sanctuary.
Beginning Monday, July 25, the free all-ages concert series will continue at 6 p.m. on Mondays through Aug. 15, bringing original music from nationally-known and Berkshire-based bands to the park's pavilion.
The schedule works with Mondays being the off-days for the Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park theater series. The community Shakespeare initiative also elected to switch venues last summer, from its debut home of Springside Park, to take advantage of the newly renovated and revitalized recreational green space.
Other live events previously held at The Common have included performances by The Eagles concert band and symphony, last Saturday's "Raise the Woof" benefit for Berkshire Humane Society, and live entertainment at the Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market.
The Common fits the mission of the concert series, according to Bill Hines, co-managing director at Interprint.
"Everything about Shire City Sessions is exciting — a beautiful setting, community and one of the most interesting lineups of talented musicians and songwriters to be found anywhere," Hines said.
In case of a nasty thunderstorm or other inclement summer weather, the concerts will move indoors to the adjacent Zion Lutheran Church. As with Shakespeare in the Park, concert-goers will be able to buy food and drinks at the shows.
The Shire City Sessions 2016 line up ranges from the alternative country/garage band sound of Banditos, to the jazzy, funky sound of the Indomitable Soul Band paired with the ear-soothing vocals of Kat Wright. The Primate Fiasco and Eli Paperboy Reed will also perform.
Each session will have an opening act, featuring original music from some of the Berkshire's finest including Chris Merenda and The Wheel; an artist showcase from local recording label Sounds and Tones, the Easy Riding Papas and the Transmitters.
The concert series will keep The Common booked and hopping during the non-performance days of the William Shakespeare play "The Tempest," running three consecutive Thursday through Sunday four-day stretches starting July 21.
"This was a great collaboration between Shire City Sessions and Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park to provide more free entertainment in Pittsfield," said Jen Glocker, Pittsfield cultural development director. "The pavilion enhanced by the Shakespeare set will make for a beautiful setting for the concerts."
For more information about the concert series, including schedule updates, visit ShireCitySessions.com.
IF YOU GO...
Shire City Sessions runs four consecutive Mondays, July 25 -Aug. 15 at The Common on First Street.
The free, all-ages concerts start at 6 p.m.
Banditos with special guests Chris Merenda and The Wheel
Primate Fiasco plus Sounds and Tones: Artist Showcase
Eli "Paperboy" Reed with special guests the Easy Ridin' Papas
Kat Wright and the Indomitable Soul Band plus the Transmitters
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233