The music is back at Harkness

Photo submitted Judy Collins will perform at Harkness State Park on July 25.

After three years of small-steps planning and abbreviated events calendars, the "Bring Our Music Back - Summer Nights at Harkness" concert series has announced a wildly diverse and expanded 2013 season.

Starting on July 18 with a soul retrospective - Larry Marshak's Tribute to the Marvelettes, Platters and Cornell Gunter's Coasters - BOMB presents five consecutive weeks of concerts in Harkness State Park in Waterford, ranging from rock and jazz to pop and opera. The headliners comprise seven decades' worth of legendary singer-songwriters and artists.

Also booked: folk-pop star Judy Collins (July 25), influential rock legend Leon Russell (July 31), the elegant jazz legacy of The Duke Ellington Orchestra (Aug. 8) and an "Opera Under the Stars" finale with tenor Carl Tenor and the Connecticut Lyric Opera Orchestra (Aug. 15).

"We're growing. We're so thrilled about where we stand across the board," says Gail Stevens, executive director of the nonprofit organization which, last year, secured a five-year contract with the State of Connecticut to hold the Bring Our Music Back events in Harkness.

Noting the success of recent BOMB seasons, in which musical styles began to expand stylistically beyond the classical concerts associated with the site's popular Summer Music series, Stevens says this year's season is decidedly diverse.

"Frank (Bombaci, Sr., the outfit's chairman of the board) was adamant about having cross-generational appeal," she says. "We want to have something for everyone. In coming up with this lineup, we're really trying to speak to the history of music and its evolution to current day."

BOMB also is dedicated to the support of younger, area artists. Each concert will have a support act selected from the region that stylistically complements the headliner.

Of course, part of the timeless appeal of the summer concerts tradition in Harkness is the ritual of friends and families gathering to celebrate the season through music, food and drink, and social interaction. To that end, picnicking is once again encouraged. Bring your own, or picnic dinners will be available on-site or pre-ordered from Coffee's Country Market in Old Lyme

There are a variety of ticket options. Advance lawn seats are $25 in advance and $35 at the gate ($20 each for groups of 10 or more). Two subscription packages are available. Choose general admission lawn seats to any three concerts for $69, or for all five events for $99.

In addition, reserved seats at VIP tables are offered for $125 per person and include beer/wine, hors d'oeuvres, a picnic dinner, meet & greet with the headliner and a swag bag. VIP subscriptions are available, too: three shows for $375 or all five for $499.

As always, active-duty military personnel and children age 12 and younger get in free.

"The idea is to keep it simple but beautifully produced," Stevens says. "We've been so grateful for the community involvement these past three years. We are very aware that people loved Summer Music, and we want it to be that way again. We've worked very hard make this happen, and our five-year goal is to have a season with 10 concerts."

For more information on "Bring Our Music Back - Summer Nights at Harkness," call (860) 434-1882 or visit bringourmusicback.org.

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