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Cross Bonz opens The Maryland Theatre's Friday evening outdoor music scene

June 06, 2012|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Cross Bonz will perform Friday night during Wind Down Friday at The Maryland Theatre.
Submitted photo

One night the music might be laid-back and loose. On other occasions, there will be moments of slow-cooking intensity.

Guitars, drums and maybe a piano wheeled outdoors will provide a solid groove for music lovers when Wind Down Friday returns this summer to the courtyard of The Maryland Theatre in downtown Hagerstown.

The series of alfresco performances kicks off on Friday, June 8, with the sounds of local band Cross Bonz.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and entertainment begins at 6 p.m. Light food and drinks are available.

In the event of rain, the courtyard will be tented.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of Wind Down Fridays, which spotlights area musicians and also serves as a fundraiser for The Maryland Theatre.

Each year, the number of people attending the weekly concerts continues to grow, said Benito Vattelana, president of the theatre’s board of directors.

The crowd averages between 200 and 300 people, he said, with many patrons returning week after week.

“Some people hate to see it stop in September,” Vattelana noted. “They continue to ask if we can run the event longer. We’ve stretched it pretty far — 16 weeks.”

The idea of providing outdoor entertainment in downtown Hagerstown came about through the efforts of Circle of Friends, a group of volunteers devoted to helping the theater create new events and fundraisers, Vattelana said.

“That’s how I got involved. We met once a week at the theater to plan the event — looking for local artists to play in the courtyard, business sponsors to cover the band fees and food from local restaurants for patrons.”

While organizers wanted it to be a fun event for the community, Vattelana said it also was envisioned as a great way to raise money for special needs at The Maryland Theatre.

The first year was a big success, he noted, raising nearly $30,000 to purchase a new digital sound board.

“Since then, we have raised additional monies to install a new box office in the lobby and other improvements to The Maryland Theatre,” he said.

Funds from this year’s concerts will be used to cover the expense of a new projection system, as well as a break room for volunteers, including ushers and concession workers, Vattelana said.

Although the inaugural season drew rave reviews, Vattelana said the future of Wind Down Friday at that time was uncertain.

“No one was sure if it would continue after that first year,” he recalled. “There were changes in theater staff and volunteers. The executive director resigned and the Circle of Friends dissipated. But many people came together at that time to make it work. The board of The Maryland Theatre wanted to continue the event and board members, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and downtown restaurants became key financial supporters.”

Vattelana said the Hagerstown City Council also agreed to begin shutting down a portion of South Potomac Street on the night of the concert, with the help of the local fire department.

“Wind Down has continued to evolve as a result of the overwhelming support of the local government and business community,” he added. “Wind Down hosted its first City Center Bike Night, Thunder in the Square and other Friday night events. We have many more great nights planned. It simply gets better each year.”

In addition to providing an outdoor venue for music, Vattelana said Wind Down Friday, sponsored by the City of Hagerstown, also is designed to bring people downtown.

“After Wind Down, you can have a nice meal at a downtown restaurant and continue to listen to music,” he said.

Vattelana said he is appreciative of the support of local restaurants which provide what he called “lite bites” for patrons. Each Friday, a different local restaurant will prepare food. There is no charge for the food, he said, other than the $5 donation at the door. The Maryland Theatre concession stand also will be open during the performances.

Vattelana said it was five years ago that Wind Down Friday brought him to The Maryland Theatre as a volunteer.

“I see the desire of our community to have a reason to come downtown,” he said. “Wind Down has proven to be a safe family-friendly event that everyone in our community can participate in. The Maryland Theatre staff have worked very hard to make this a great event this year.”


If you go ...       

WHAT: Wind Down Friday

WHEN: Fridays, June 8 through Sept. 28; doors open at 5:30 p.m.; music starts at 6 p.m.

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown

COST: $5

CONTACT: Go to www.mdtheatre.org for tickets

MORE: Rain or shine; cash bar


Entertainment schedule 

June 8 — Cross Bonz

June 15 — Two bands: Exit 1 and The Compadres (special event 6 to 10 p.m., no cover)

June 29 — Drew Adams Project

July 6 — Two bands: Prophets of the Abstract Truth and Stack O’ Blues

July 13 — Cruisers

July 20 — Riverknot

July 27 — Staff Infection

Aug. 3 — Rudy & the Blue Fish

Aug. 10 — Skweez Play

Aug. 17 — Rhythm Kings with Kim Tantillo

Aug. 24 — Two bands: Cross Bonz and Stack O’ Blues

Aug. 31 — Lucky Punk

Sept. 7 — The Boro Boogie Pickers

Sept. 14 — Moondog Medicine Show

Sept. 21 — Built 4 Comfort

Sept. 28 — Cruisers


Submitted photo
Cross Bonz will perform Friday night during Wind Down Friday at The Maryland Theatre.

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