2009-06-19 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

RMAC Summer Concert Series Is Returning

By Nicholas Briano

Kenny Vance and The Planotones are scheduled to perform on Sunday, July 26, part of the RMAC's '2009 Sunset Picnic Concert Series." Kenny Vance and The Planotones are scheduled to perform on Sunday, July 26, part of the RMAC's '2009 Sunset Picnic Concert Series." The Rockaway Music and Arts Council (RMAC) announced this week, the return of their free 'Sunset Picnic Concert Series' at a new venue after last year's series was cancelled due to a disagreement with the National Park Service over the use of the concert's former Fort Tilden location.

The three concerts taking place throughout July and August will be held at the Jacob Riis Park Bathhouse, all starting at 6:30 p.m.

RMAC president, Stephen Yaeger, is excited about the return of the concerts after a one year hiatus and says concert-goers should be aware of a few changes, most importantly the location and the times.

"Shows start at 6:30 p.m. and parking at Riis Park is free starting at 6 p.m.," Yaeger said. "We used to do it at 6 p.m., but the parking was an issue. Also, we have many seniors that don't want to walk from the Riis Park lot, so we arranged for handicap parking by the bathhouse."

The Long Island Pops Orchestra is just one of many acts who have performed at past "Sunset Picnic Concert Series" shows over the past 20 years that the council has hosted the series. The Long Island Pops Orchestra is just one of many acts who have performed at past "Sunset Picnic Concert Series" shows over the past 20 years that the council has hosted the series. The RMAC concerts, a 20-year Rockaway summer tradition, were missed by the community when they were cancelled last year, Yaeger says. Although he still admits his unhappiness about not utilizing Fort Tilden as in years past, he says he would rather be at the bathhouse than not have the concerts again.

"In the past years we had five concerts a year, but only three this year. One of the nicest parts of Fort Tilden was the grassy picnic-type area. So, we're going to try it here, but are not sure how it will work," he said. "What we were trying to do last year, was to convince National Park Service that it worked so well in the Fort Tilden venue, and that we felt like continuing there, but they insisted that Fort Tilden will not be used for these activities."

However, the RMAC realized this year that it was the bathhouse or nowhere.

"We'd rather be here than not at all. The community looks forward to this, people are calling and asking about the concerts," he said. "We really didn't want to take it away. We had no choice but to relocate here, it is the only venue we have for the concerts."

The first show will take place on Sunday, July 12 when the Rockaway Theatre Company's 14-piece orchestra presents selections from their upcoming show, "Oklahoma" as well as other popular standards. Following on Sunday, July 26 is the Leon S. Locke Memorial Concert featuring popular doo-wop group Kenny Vance and The Planotones who will present classics of the 1950s and '60s.

Finally, the series wraps up on Sunday, August 9, when The New York Klezmer Ensemble performs an array of traditional Jewish music.

RMAC encourages people to attend and take advantage of the free concerts and bring their own chairs, blankets, etc. For more information about the council and their events visit Rockawaymusicandarts. org or call 718-474- 6760.

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