Anchorage, Alaska. Middlesboro, Kentucky. Charlottesville, Virginia. Bellingham, Washington. Lafayette, Louisiana. Trenton, New Jersey. Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Cleveland, Mississippi. Denison, Texas.
And now Frederick, Maryland.
The city of Frederick was named Monday as one of 10 cities across the country to receive $25,000 in matching funds from the Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Awards. Sponsored by Levitt Pavilions, a nonprofit aimed at helping small to mid-sized cities bring live music to areas across the U.S., the contest began in November, when people could vote for their favorite proposals online. The field was then narrowed down to 20, and on Monday, the top 10 cities were announced.
Spearheading Frederick’s campaign was Kara Norman and the Downtown Frederick Partnership. Collaborating on the project with businesses around town, the partnership’s executive director said she felt a bit nervous Monday when the afternoon came and went without the organization hearing word on whether it had made the cut.
“We were leaving the office a little down because we knew we were supposed to find out and we figured it couldn’t be good news because it was after five o’clock,” Norman explained Tuesday afternoon. “But then Danielle (Doll, a development associate for the partnership) reminded me that they were on the West Coast. So when we found out last night, we did a lot of text messaging in celebration.”
While it may take the organization a handful of months to nail down exactly who it plans to bring to Frederick, Norman revealed the plan for the series: Each Tuesday from June 16 to Aug. 18, artists will take the Carroll Creek Amphitheatre stage at 7 p.m. The shows are scheduled to last about an hour and there will more than likely be only one act performing per event.
Unlike the partnership’s Alive@Five concert series, which will continue as scheduled through the summer, these Tuesday concerts will be free to the public and family-friendly. No alcohol will be for sale, and the shows will be open to people of all ages.
“It could be a family picnic, if you wanted it to be,” Norman said. “You could head downtown and effectively dine out, literally on the creek.”
The organization hopes to pattern the series off the Weinberg Center’s Tivoli Discovery Series, which brings in emerging artists at a pay-what-you-want cost for the public. A key figure in deciding which artists are worth being part of the series is John Healey, the executive theater manager at the venue.
“I think it’s fabulous, just great,” Healey said of Frederick’s top 10 finish. “We want to try and find a Snarky Puppy or a Quinn Sullivan — someone we can get for two or three thousand dollars, who is on the way up, and can perhaps win a Grammy.”
He’ll have the opportunity to do just that: Norman noted how she hopes to have his input when it comes to deciding which artists the partnership should target. And the Weinberg contribution doesn’t end there.
In addition to “writing a few letters,” as Healey put it, to help make the case for the grant money in the first place, the Weinberg will also serve as the venue the series can use whenever inclement weather rears its ugly head. So, unlike Alive@Five, which had to cancel a few shows due to a handful of rainouts over the summer, there will be backup plan for the Levitt series in 2015.
“It’s just another opportunity for families to come out on a weekday night,” Healey said. “Maybe a slow Tuesday night will suddenly make it a busy night downtown. Frederick has a pretty rich musical tradition, and in the last few years especially, we’ve really seen people take off. There’s an energy here and I’m glad I might be a small part of this.”
Norman, who said she hopes this will double the amount of attendance the amphitheater sees each summer at Alive@Five to 20,000 spectators, agreed that the win could help push the city to the next level as a national destination for music.
“I’m so thrilled,” she said. “It’s going to be fantastic. This could be a one-time deal because they have not given any indication that we could get it again. So I urge people to come out this summer and check it out. It’s so exciting.”