"We'll have a concert in the park every Thursday in July and August," said Town Administrator Anthony Iacono last week.
The concerts will start on July 12 and will run through Aug. 30, and will be held in Buchmuller Park next to the Secaucus Library in the Plaza section of town. These concerts will start at 7 p.m. and run to about 9 p.m.
Mayor Dennis Elwell said the idea behind the concerts is to help maintain the small-town texture of Secaucus by providing an opportunity for the community to gather. The series, one of many cultural programs organized by the town's Cultural Committee, was started last year. According to Elwell, it did so well that the town decided to continue and expand it this year.
While geared largely to the town's senior citizen population, anyone can attend the concerts, Elwell said. "There is no cost, and the sponsors provide the refreshments," he said. "In the past, sponsors have tried to provide food that fit the theme that night. For instance, when [Italian singer] Leo [D'Angelo] performed the first time, there were Italian pastries. The second time he performed, there were Italian ices."
Elwell said the town approached businesses big and small that had sponsored concerts last year, and all of them agreed to help with this year's series as well.
"We're bringing in some higher caliber performers," Iacono said. "For instance, on July 19, we're going to have Larry Chance & the Earls, and [in August we'll have] Jimmy Sturr. If people wanted to see Jimmy Sturr in Atlantic City, they would have to pay $60 for a two-hour show. People in Secaucus can see a two-hour show for free."
The first of the performers is a doo-wop group; Sturr leads an orchestra.
Elwell said that the town worked with the business community to help fund the programs and to offer a full range of musical tastes from swing and orchestra to Motown, Broadway, Sinatra and Elvis.
The concerts will kick off the year on Thursday, July 12 with a performance by The New Deal Swing Band, a group that has received praise from music critics and former Gov. Jim Florio. Newsday's Stuart Troup said, "The band is solid, from the rhythm section... through the horns"
The event will be co-sponsored by Kipnis Orthopedic in Secaucus.
On July 19, Larry Chance & the Earls will perform. This band had it roots in the 1950s, and the members are known for their flawless harmonies, one of those street-corner doo-wop bands that managed to make it big on the rock and roll charts. The local co-sponsor for this event will be the Independence Community Bank of Secaucus.
On July 26, Joseph Eigo - a New Jersey shore sensation - will bring his tribute to Elvis Presley to Secaucus . Eigo, performing under the name Elvis 2001, will put on a show called The Tribute. Eigo is considered by some critics to be the premiere Elvis performer. This performance is co-sponsored by the Secaucus branch of the Trust Company bank.
On Aug. 2, Metropolis Music of Philadelphia and New York will bring in the Motown Review Band, an event co-sponsored by Secaucus' Burger Stop.
On Aug. 9, Secaucus' Robert Fournier will step out of his role with the Secaucus High School concert band and present a performance of Broadway hits in a show sponsored by The Haven Savings Bank.
On Aug. 16, Ernie Contri will bring Sounds of Sinatra to Secaucus as "The Other Kid" from Hoboken. Contri has performed at numerous events honoring the legendary Hoboken crooner. This event will be co-sponsored by Kipnis Orthopedic of Secaucus.
On Aug. 23, the Grammy Award-winning The Jimmy Sturr Orchestra will entertain Secaucus residents with what has been called "the big band music of Polka." This concert is co-sponsored by Natoli's Restaurant in Secaucus.
The Summer Concert Series will conclude with an act that performed twice last summer, Leo D'Angelo, who appeared regularly at LaReggia Restaurant in Secaucus - which is co-sponsoring his performance in the park. Although not included in the original schedule, a night of movies in the park has been added for Aug. 14. While the details have yet to be worked out as to what film will be shown, Iacono said it will be a family favorite, and that a special 20-by-30 foot movie screen will be set up in the roller rink for the performances.
"We're even going to give away free popcorn," Iacono said. "All people have to do is bring their lawn chairs." This is part of a large culture series that has been proposed by Bill Donnelly, chairman of the town's Cultural Committee. Over the summer, the town will again be offering poolside puppet performances for kids. These are held on a weekday in the afternoons.
"Last year we had three days [of puppet performances]; this year we'll have six," Elwell said. "These events are open to every resident of Secaucus, not just pool patrons."
Classical music performances are being scheduled for three of the churches in the fall, and a professional fashion show will likely take place in October to help raise money for Friends of the Secaucus Public Library.
For more information, call 330-2083.