Montville concert series offers 'good, clean, summer fun'

Diane Harris, left, of Montville and her friend Bonnie Brine of Norwich enjoy the music of the band Straight Ahead during the Montville Parks and Recreation summer concert series July 22 at the large pavilion at Camp Oakdale.
Diane Harris, left, of Montville and her friend Bonnie Brine of Norwich enjoy the music of the band Straight Ahead during the Montville Parks and Recreation summer concert series July 22 at the large pavilion at Camp Oakdale. Dana Jensen/The Day Buy Photo

Monvtille - On a warm Tuesday night in July, a small number of people gathered at Camp Oakdale's large pavilion. They sat in pairs and small groups around picnic tables under the vaulted roof of the pavilion, which was lit orange by the setting sun.

Kids passed a soccer ball before retreating to the shade of the volleyball court nearby. A warm breeze broke the humid heat and an ice cream truck awaited customers.

At the front of the pavilion, Straight Ahead - a band of four local men - covered Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," inciting whoops, clapping and singing along from the audience, which wasn't quite big enough to be called a crowd.

This was the leisurely scene at a recent Tuesday night Summer Concert Series, organized by Montville's Parks and Recreation Department.

There are normally more people at the concert, according Peter Bushway, parks and recreation director. He was expecting a crowd closer to 90 than the dozen or so audience members in attendance today.

Bushway shrugged and said maybe the crowds would be back next week.

"It's better than being home alone," he said.

A few tables back from the stage, Diane Harris and her friend Bonnie Brine clapped along and cheered for Harris's cousin, Bob Boska, who played keyboards in the band. Harris and Brine are longtime friends and former roommates, and Harris said concerts are among the few times they get to see each other and "relax and regroup."

"Live music goes with summer," said Harris, with a container of cold watermelon and a canteen of ice tea in front of her. "Who doesn't like to sit outside and watch the sunset and (hear) some good music?"

"It keeps you young," Brine added. "You can have no shoes on, wear pigtails and it's all OK. Good, clean, summer fun."

Montville's concerts are among the many summer options in the area. The series, which Bushway said is in its sixth or seventh year, joins more established summer concert series like Rock the Docks in Norwich, Summer Soundwaves in Groton and the Summer Sounds concert series at Mystic River Park.

Bushway said he would like to see the Montville series continue to grow, but understands that attendance will vary from week to week, and that last week's show was sparsely attended but no less fun because of it.

At a table across the open pavilion from the laughing and dancing Harris and Brine, concert-goers Tom and Carol Surprenant swayed and tapped their toes, enjoying the scene. As long as there's good music, there doesn't need to be a big crowd for the night to be fun, Carol Suprenant said.

She and her husband didn't know the band that was playing, she said, but they said they enjoy attending concerts of tribute bands that play the music they've loved since the original bands were in their heydays. They like "anything rock and roll," Tom Suprenant said.

The couple spend their winters in Florida and return to Connecticut for the summer. They frequent live music performances in both locations, they said. Having both grown up in the area, they are happy that towns like Montville offer concerts of this kind.

"(Montville is) our home, and it always will be," Carol Suprenant said.

Run for Cover is scheduled to perform at 6 p.m. tonight and the final concert on Aug. 5 will feature Airborne Jugglers.

j.hopper@theday.com

The band Straight Ahead performs July 22 during the Montville Parks and Recreation summer concert series at the large pavilion at Camp Oakdale.
The band Straight Ahead performs July 22 during the Montville Parks and Recreation summer concert series at the large pavilion at Camp Oakdale. Dana Jensen/The Day Buy Photo
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