Caryn Fox, one of the singers in Dead Men's Hollow, says the group was so pleased with the Hagers-town venue last year that it signed up for two concerts this year.
"The band shell itself is a beautiful setting," she says. "It's nice because people come and bring chairs and listen to the music. Acoustically, we try as much as we can to play without any amplification at all."
The natural amphitheater area of City Park makes that easier, Fox says. "Playing old-time style music, it's not loud. So really (the band shell venue) lets people hear the music without being blasted out of their chairs."
Moriarty says the arts council is devoted to finding the best performers to make up the summer concert series while staying within budget.
"Whatever we can find that is the best available, that's what we're booking," he says.
The concert series starts Saturday with a performance by Thursday Nite Music Club. The trio from Warfordsburg, Pa., combines Latin, gypsy jazz, swing, old-time and mountain blues styles. The three band members in their 40s have been playing together since high school and now regularly play at local festivals, restaurants and private functions.
"I'm looking forward to it," says Jeff Chesnut, singer and guitarist with the trio. "I think it will be a good time."
Chesnut says the Hagerstown venue will be a welcome change for the musicians since people will come to sit down and listen to the music. When they play in bars or at private functions, people don't pay attention to the music as much, he says.
J.P. McDermott and Western Bop will perform country rock and rockabilly Aug. 20. The group has won a WAMMIE, a Washington Area Music Association award.
"This is a sign that we're making it," Moriarty says, noting the Washington, D.C., groups signed up for Music by the Lake.
"Some of us share a vision of Hagers-town as a music town," he says.
The series is sponsored by the City of Hagerstown, Maryland State Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts and Target Stores.
Karen Giffin, public information manager for the City of Hagers-town, says the City is thrilled to offer another free concert series during the summer months.
"We thought that this was a natural fit," she says. "We started (Music by the Lake) to promote our parks and have more music."
Music by the Lake will dovetail with the free Sunday night Hagers-town Municipal Band concerts at the band shell and the summer Plaza Party, which brings live music to downtown each week during the Thursday lunch hour.
The Saturday concert series also is part of an attempt to establish live music performances in Hagers-town between the Western Maryland Blues Fest in June and Augustoberfest in, well, August.
The Arts Council has experimented with the Music by the Lake event for two years - four concerts in 2004, one in 2003.
"It has been very popular," Giffin says.
All performances start at 7 p.m. Performances are canceled if there is heavy rain.
July 9 - Thursday Nite Music Club will perform bluegrass-style music combined with Latin, gypsy jazz and mountain blues styles.
July 16 - South Mountain String Band is a West Virginia-based group that plays traditional bluegrass music.
July 23 - Tori Anderson and Possum Holler, an electric country group, will be followed by Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition.
July 30 - Dead Men's Hollow will play bluegrass, Southern gospel and country blues, all performed acoustically.
Aug. 6 - To be announced
Aug. 13 - Dead Men's Hollow
Aug. 20 - J.P. McDermott and Western Bop combine country rock and rockabilly.
Aug. 27 - Mountain Medley: The last night of the festival is an open mic for regional bands. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a space.
If you go ...
WHAT: Music by the Lake hosted by the Washington County Arts Council
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturdays through July and August.
WHERE: Hagerstown City Park band shell
MORE: Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. For more information, go to www.washingtoncountyarts.com or call 301-791-3132.