• 59°

Rock Fence Park concerts returning in April

By RANDY PATRICK

The Jessamine Journal

Get ready to rock and roll.

After an absence because of coronavirus concerns, the Saturday night concerts at Nicholasville’s Rock Fence Park are making a comeback.

The free concerts will kick out the jams April 24 with Kelly Caldwell and her band, Kashmere. Caldwell is a school administrator and counselor in Richmond, but her other persona is that of a singer, guitarist and fiddler.

Other featured artists this spring and summer include “American Idol” favorite Courtney Arnold, the bluegrass band 27 South and contemporary Christian singer Marlana VanHoose, who is blind and achieved fame by singing the national anthem at professional sporting events and the 2016 Republican National Convention.

“There’s some really top flight entertainment,” said Teg Evans, the Nicholasville music educator and promoter who has organized the concerts for years. “You don’t have to go to Lexington or anywhere (else) to get a good show.”

The concerts are hosted by Nicholasville-Jessamine County Parks and Recreation, who offer them for free with the help of sponsors and donors. Guests don’t need tickets to attend; they can just come out.

Evans said the concerts started at the park on Second Street in the early 2000s as small gatherings in the little picnic area at the park, and grew to accommodate hundreds after Magistrate George Dean got the stage built for the performers 10 or 12 years ago. For a few years, the concerts faded away because no one had the money to spend, Evans said. But last fall, he was talking with Duane McCuddy and told him people had been “clamoring for something new.” So the two put together a few shows in October and “got a pretty good response,” and so when Parks and Rec reached out to him a few weeks ago and asked what they could do this spring and summer and told him they had a little money to make it happen, Evans said, “Give me five minutes.”

It took him a little longer than that to call some old friends and acquaintances and get something going.

“The cool part is that these guys that are worth a lot of money to perform are really stepping up and making a generous contribution” by offering to perform the free concerts at reduced rates, he said.

So far, the lineup includes Kelly Caldwell & Kashmere on April 24, Five Below Band on May 8, Mama Said String Band on May 22, Collins & Cox on June 5, Courtney Arnold on June 19, the DSB Reunion Show on July 3, 27 South on July 17 and Marlana VanHoose on July 31.

All the shows start at 7 p.m.

Wicked Ways Car Club will have some of their classics at some of the shows, radio station Jess FM will be there, and vendors including Hacienda from Brannon Crossing will have food trucks. Parking is available at the old bowling alley across the street, Stratton Lumber, Hager & Cundiff, the city lot and other locations.

“I’m hoping that where everybody’s been so confined” by COVID-19 restrictions, Evans said, “they will come out and sit in the grass and enjoy the sunshine” and the music. But they should keep in mind that the virus, while it has waned, hasn’t gone away, and so they should exercise caution keep a respectful distance from others. They can wear masks if they want, especially if they haven’t been vaccinated.

“We just want people to use common sense,” he said. “But that park’s big enough, there’s plenty of room to spread out.”

Evans said that on the Sunday prior to their shows, the performers will be featured on Jess FM with host John Branscum (Johnny B) with Caldwell first up on April 18.

Moonlight Fields Wedding Farm, Roger Fields Real Estate and Re Brand U Marketing are among the sponsors of the shows.