As in years past, the May concert series will be held in Johnston Memorial Park. The music gets under way at 6:30 p.m.
The concerts are free of charge.
All residents, and especially those whose focus for the past week has targeted storm recovery, whether as impacted homeowners or invaluable volunteers, are encouraged to pack a picnic supper and a lawn chair while enjoying a short pause away from household worries and restoration chores.
Or, enjoy a relaxing dinner at any of the downtown restaurants.
The series is made possible by the Allied Arts Council of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce. It is funded in part by local sponsors and under an agreement with the Tennessee Arts Commission.
Nancy Neal, vice president of communications for the Chamber, who provides the Evening Shade Concerts information, said the musical series comes at a time when embattled area residents need an opportunity to rest their tired muscles and to ease their troubled minds and hearts.
Event organizer Kyle Elrod agreed.
“The concert is family-friendly entertainment presented in downtown Cleveland free of charge,” he said.
Popular entertainers who will be showcased at Friday’s opening night are The Dexter Thomas Band, a group with a rousing reputation. Opening for The Dexter Thomas Band will be a country music group named Gerle Haggard, newcomers to Evening Shade.
According to Chamber information, the Dexter Thomas Band has built a reputation as being one of the most exciting show bands in the Southeast. The group’s high-energy show features the vocals of India Galyean and Jonathan Jarrett, and a 10-piece entourage of experienced musicians and vocalists.
“This is not just a fun band,” Elrod said. “They are outstanding musicians too.” Nine of the band’s 10 members have music degrees.
The Dexter Thomas Band has been featured in a variety of concert events throughout the Southeast. The group headlined on the Conoco Stage at Chattanooga’s Riverbend Festival and they opened for Michael Bolton in Finley Stadium. The local musicians have performed in concert with The Doobie Brothers, Bruce Hornsby, Atlanta Rhythm Section, The Guess Who, Leon Russell, The Byrds, Goose Creek Symphony, Survivor, The Temptations, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, The Four Tops, The Drifters, Dr. Hook and the Coasters.
Jarrett, the band’s newest singer, is a Cleveland native and lifelong resident. He has sung backup vocals for many of Danny Shirley’s songs with Confederate Railroad. He is a studio vocalist for Pyramid Studios.
A native of Resaca, Ga., vocalist India Galyean worked steadily as a professional singer and actress in New York City after college and appeared in many of New York’s popular hot spots, like the Iridium, Irving Plaza, Tavern on the Green and The Russian Tea Room.
She received the prestigious Bistro Award for Outstanding Vocalist, an honor that recognized her work on New York’s cabaret circuit, where she shared the stage with legends Barbara Cook and Eartha Kitt.
Other members of The Dexter Thomas Band include Shawn Perkinson, Charlie Covington, Elaine Little, Harlon Rice, Melanie Willetts, Ricky Donegan, Alan Hunt, Gwen Shoyer, Brian Gallaher and Colby Burris.
As their name implies, Gerle Haggard, the night’s opening act, brings to the stage tight harmonies and honky-tonk sensibility reminiscent of a bygone era in country music.
At the group’s core are three women who share a love for the musical traditions of Tennessee and Appalachia. The trio formed a fast friendship founded on a shared love for old-timey and classic country tunes. Members include Emily Webb, guitar; Emily Scoggins, bass; and Lori Quillen, banjo and fiddle. Ben Scoggins, mandolin, and Andrew Stewart, dobro, round out the band’s full lineup.
The group’s musical talents and styles have been influenced by such country greats as the Carter Family, Hazel Dickens, Loretta Lynn, Wanda Jackson and Emmylou Harris.
Elrod said Gerle Hazzard and The Dexter Thomas Band are a special blend of musical entertainment that will help Bradley County residents get their minds off the toils of storm recovery. And it won’t stop Friday, because Evening Shade is a month-long tradition.
“Throughout the season we will have something for everyone,” Elrod said. “Stay tuned. You’re sure to find an evening to enjoy with your whole family.”