One year and one week later, many local families continue their struggle to attain what is commonly referred to now as the community’s “New Normal.”
Last weekend, Bradley County residents joined together again in the one-year observation of the tragedies. Local volunteers attended an appreciation luncheon hosted by the Long-Term Recovery Organization, an endearing home dedication for the Yarber family, the Recovery 2012 community memorial and later Friday evening the heartwarming candlelight vigil in honor of all nine storm victims, including Evelyn Johnson whose family hosted the ceremony.
On Saturday, some 200 or more volunteers convened for a “Day of Service” in which their ranks were spread throughout the city and county to continue, and to complete, unfinished storm recovery projects.
Physically and emotionally, the one-year observance fatigued an assembly of volunteers and storm-impacted families, many of whom likely will seek refuge and a temporary respite in the calm of Evening Shade, the concert series in Historic Downtown Cleveland’s Johnston Park which kicks off Friday evening for its 18th season.
To feature Sound of Tennessee in warm-up, which is a popular chorus whose barbershop harmony has entertained locally and beyond for 15 years, and then the headline act by “The Georgia Songbird” EG Kight, the Evening Shade series is arriving just in time — just like it did a year ago.
Although a year removed from the devastating storms, Friday’s concert won’t be entirely void of tornado awareness. The evening of music is being co-sponsored by Charter and The Weather Channel. As such, the tandem will be dispensing disaster preparation kits and information beginning at 6 p.m. while supplies last. The music will kick off at 6:30 p.m.
Melissa Woody, vice president of the Convention & Visitors Bureau of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, said the timing is as appropriate as the 2011 concert series.
“When Charter and The Weather Channel expressed interest in distributing disaster preparedness kits and other important information locally, Evening Shade was the perfect fit,” Woody said in a recent Chamber media release. “Last year’s first night of Evening Shade was one of the first major community events after the April 27 storms.”
This year’s timing is just as appropriate and its downtown location is befitting of an evening of free, family-oriented entertainment, she said.
“[Johnston Park] is a great place for Charter and The Weather Channel to set up and greet concertgoers,” Woody stressed. “The concert starts at 6:30 p.m., but kits will be given starting at 6 p.m. while supplies last.”
The Chamber’s tourism advocate stressed one key point — arrive early.
“[We encourage] everyone to come early to Johnston Park for your special kit and a great seat!” she stressed.
Evening Shade is not just about the quality entertainment. And it goes far beyond the no-cost admission. Attendees are urged to bring their lawn chairs, their blankets or quilts and their picnic baskets filled with meals and snacks, Woody said. Others might be interested in checking out one of the downtown area’s many restaurants, she added.
According to Kyle Elrod, event organizer, Evening Shade’s kickoff will bring musical sounds well familiar to Cleveland listeners. Kight, who began her career in country and now has a diverse selection of musical selections to her credit, is making her first appearance in downtown Cleveland.
She is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and entertainer. Her talents include Americana, southern rock, blues, pop, jazz, gospel and funk. She has entertained nationwide in clubs and festivals, works as a solo and with a band, has performed with a symphony orchestra, and has appeared on National Public Radio’s famed “A Prairie Home Companion” with world-renowned entertainer Garrison Keillor.
“With her diverse musical styles, she will fit right in at Evening Shade,” Elrod said.
Born and raised in a small town in rural Georgia, Kight has been nominated for six Billboard Music Award honors, twice of which came for Song of the Year.
Sound of Tennessee is no stranger to local music lovers nor to Evening Shade.
The group has entertained local audiences for 15 years and has performed in a range of settings. Sound of Tennessee also hosts an annual Christmas show benefitting the William Hall Rodgers Basket Fund. The group also provides a Singing Valentine service each year. The barbershop-style chorus last performed at Evening Shade in May 2010, and is returning this year by popular demand.