by Joshua Maloni
While many stories have been written about Artpark in the past year - everything from its status as a state park to its role in allegedly hiding Elvis Costello - at the end of the day it's safe to say most people want to know one thing: Who's headlining Tuesdays?
On Wednesday, Artpark & Co. President George Osborne unveiled the performers set to participate this summer as part of "Tuesday in the Park." The star-studded lineup includes War, America, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, The Doobie Brothers, Foreigner, Sara Evans, and The Machine performs Pink Floyd. In total, the artists performing during the 12-week series have amassed a half-dozen Grammy Awards, a Juno Award, and represent no fewer than 85 Billboard Top 10 hits.
"I think we've always tried to make the Artpark Tuesday nights - since we reached this level - the best free concert series around," Osborne said at the kickoff press conference.
With additional financial support from sponsors - and now the Town of Lewiston, as well - Osborne said Artpark was able to book larger acts for 2010.
"You can tell by the names of the bands we announced there's really nobody on there that's a throwaway," he said.
Osborne expects The Doobie Brothers will draw the largest crowd this summer.
"We've been trying to get these guys forever," he said.
Artpark's newly titled "Coors Light Wednesdays" offers an eclectic mix of acts, including former "American Idol" contestant Katharine McPhee, jazz-funk stylists Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, reggae band John Brown's Body, and Buffalo's own Willie Nile Band.
"The Wednesday night series is going to be a wonderful series; a lot of young bands, new talents, different types of music," Osborne said.
A highlight of the series is a trio of Canadian alt-rock acts in The Sadies, Sloan and The Trews.
"They have a real good draw, and we were looking for younger bands," Osborne said. "The Canadians who come across the border ... they seem to draw very well."
Artpark's Mainstage Theater lineup is beefed up for 2010. Previously announced acts include "The Gruesome Twosome Tour" (Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie; May 22), Les Claypool & The Avett Brothers (June 2), Further (July 8), Great Big Sea (July 17), Flaming Lips (July 22), Celtic Woman (July 23) and Bachman & Turner (Aug. 27).
Together, these artists have notched 18 Top 10 hits and 10 No. 1 albums.
From Aug. 12-22, Artpark presents the Elvis-inspired musical "All Shook Up." Akin to Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," the 1955, middle-America story revolves around bad boy Chad and small town Natalie. The plot is described as a tangled story of romance, comedy and rock 'n' roll.
"We have an outstanding cast," Osborne said. "This is a show that everyone will really want to be there for."
If Elvis was alive today, he would be 75. As such, many performance venues are now utilizing the music of the "King of Rock 'n' Roll."
"This is Elvis year," Osborne said. "Everybody is doing something with Elvis."
When Osborne and his team were scouting out potential stage shows, "All Shook Up" wasn't necessarily their first choice. However, "it became the best choice because it's a new show, relatively, and it didn't come through here on tour," Osborne said. "So, again, it's one of those things where we're able to do a show that really hasn't been seen in Buffalo."
Additionally, the Mainstage Theater has all new seats and "All Shook Up" will utilize new costumes and sets.
Artpark presents "Free Family Saturdays" July 10-31, "Rock Camp" from July 26-31, theater camp Aug. 16-20, and art camps on July 12-16, 19-23 and Aug. 2-6.
"Family Movie Night" is Monday, Aug. 23, and features the Academy Award-winning film "Up!"
Fresh from Nickelodeon, "Yo Gabba Gabba!" takes the stage on Friday, Sept. 3, for two shows.
In recent years, Artpark has made earnest efforts to bolster its family programming. Maureen Kellick, director of marketing, PR and development, said that trend continues in 2010.
"The family programming has always been the biggest part of our mission," she said. "We're delighted that this year, for example, those four ‘Free Family Saturdays' will include live performance art each week. So, as the families come to enjoy the beauty of the park - enjoy hands-on family workshops to create together and discover together - they'll then be enjoying a live performance by Shakespeare in Delaware Park, by the Niagara Experience Players, magic and mime."
"The continued free art activities during the free concerts sprinkle that children-and-family element throughout all the programming," she added. "I think our sponsors, as well as our board, are totally committed to continuing, and putting maybe a brighter spotlight on all we do do for families and for children."
Artpark's outdoor concerts are free, and begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the Mainstage productions are available at the venue's box office, at Tickets.com outlets and online at www.artpark.net.