Ijams sets stage for Sunday concerts

Betsy PickleArts 865, Feature

Ijams Nature Center will be rockin’ out this summer, thanks to a local music expert and some of the area’s finest bands.

The Ijams Summer Concert Series kicks off this Sunday, May 20, with the band Guy Marshall. The show starts at 4 p.m. Admission is $8 at the door; children 5 and younger are admitted free.

The series was curated by Wayne Bledsoe, former music critic for the Knoxville News Sentinel. During his lengthy tenure covering music for the daily paper, Bledsoe became a passionate advocate for local bands and artists, and his expertise continues to be an asset to both performers and audiences.

Ijams, 2915 Island Home Ave., has had success previously with contemporary acts through events such as the now-defunct Meadow Lark Music Festival.

“They wanted to start something new this year,” says Bledsoe. “Sarah Brobst (program director) and Cindy Hassil (development director) contacted me, simply because I know so many music people, and it was simple to put together.”

The concerts also will raise funds for Ijams’ mission of encouraging the stewardship of nature. Coming up in the series are the Pinklets on Sunday, June 17, and Mic Harrison & the High Score on Sunday, July 15.

Whether the series will be extended or replicated “depends on how successful these are,” Bledsoe says. “If they’re really successful they’ll think about doing it after August for a fall series.”

If the concerts become a regular feature, bands from outside the area may be booked as well.

“We possibly could get some bigger bands just passing through,” he says. “But we’re very happy with what we have.”

Although this will be a smaller event than Meadow Lark, Bledsoe says this framework might be more appealing to people.

“It’s not like an all-day thing,” he says. “It will take up just part of your day, and then you can go hang out at Ijams.

“Sunday afternoon at 4 o’clock is generally a good time for people. There’s usually not a lot going on then. And this is something you can take the whole family to.”

There will be food trucks and a beer garden at the shows. Attendees may bring blankets and lawn chairs.

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