The Town of Bethany Beach will once again entertain the masses on its bandstand starting in June.
“We start looking at bands the second the previous season ends,” said Julie Malewski, events director for the Town, which also does an annual survey of visitors to get suggestions for bands they’d like to see.
“Usually, we hold off booking until we get the surveys back, but we’re always scouting new bands to refresh the lineup every year. Even though we start looking in the fall, we tend to wrap by January so we can start sending in our contracts by February.”
There will be 50 entertainment groups gracing the bandstand this season, beginning on June 9.
Malewski said 15 cover bands will perform on the bandstand, nine of which have previously played to Bethany crowds.
Tribute bands “tend to top our survey list — people really like those. It’s just a matter of finding a variety that everyone would enjoy. They’re really rising in popularity right now. And, obviously, they’re a lot cheaper than getting the real thing, but a lot of them are spot on — it’s nice to offer that.”
Returning for the 2017 summer season are The Reagan Years (’80s), Sean Reilly’s Sinatra, Sir Rod (Rod Stewart), Desert Highway (the Eagles), British Invasion (’60s and the Beatles), Ragdoll (Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons), Jesse Garron (Elvis), Chris Westfall (John Denver/James Taylor), and Still Surfin’ (the Beach Boys).
New to the bandstand are The Core (Eric Clapton), Real Diamond (Neil Diamond), EWF Band (Earth Wind & Fire), Larger Than Life (’90s boy-bands) and I Am King: the Michael Jackson Experience, out of Las Vegas.
Making their bandstand debut will be 10 new bands, including bicultural songwriter and San Antonio native Stephanie Urbina Jones, who will perform her Texicana country rock songs that have made it on the Billboard charts and in Rolling Stone magazine, and who has shared the spotlight with Willie Nelson and Lorrie Morgan.
Blind Wind, an award-winning Maryland duo fronted by 14-year old blind harmonica player Cole Moran and his father, Frankie, will play the bluegrass that has brought them to Nashville stages. The ’80s flashback band The Jimmies will follow a brief set by Jimmy’s aspiring singer-songwriter daughter Caitlyn Marsilii.
Classic rock songs will be covered with Matthew Street Band and WMGK House Band winner Kategory 5. The Uptown Band will play a mix of R&B, jazz and funk. PBC Vocal Band will perform a capella mashups of hits from the last four decades, using tight harmonies, beatboxing and vocal percussion. And the Hayley Fahey Band will bring a soulful mix of originals by D.C.-based songwriter Hayley Fahey and her band.
Bands returning to Bethany include The Fabulous Dialtones, Delmarva Big Band, Over Time, Mario Rocco, Tim Laushey Orchestra, Delta Spur, Octavia Blues, Sarah Williams, Three Sheets Acoustic and singer-songwriter John Pollard, who will open for his daughter’s band, Triple Rail Turn (formerly Philbilly), as well as Love Seed Mama Jump, who will provide the entertainment before the Fourth of July fireworks at dusk.
The Jamboree Boys, made up of local musicians including state. Sen. Gerald Hocker, will also return to play some country music favorites on Aug. 25.
“A lot of our community bands have a huge community following. It’s really great to see. The nice thing about the Jamboree Boys is they really only play twice a year, and one of those times is on our stage. It gives them a chance to get up there and do something they don’t normally do,” said Malewski.
“The nice thing about that group, also, is that their age varies. They play traditional country, but also some of the more contemporary. It’s a nice mix.”
Bandstand performances take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with an occasional mid-week booking. Shows typically begin at 7:30 p.m. Seating is provided free of charge, but audience members are welcome to bring their own chairs.
“It used to be only a couple days, but now it has expanded Friday through Sundays. So, any night of the weekend, you’re going to find great entertainment and people there watching it.”
Aug. 18 will allow locals and visitors to showcase their talents in the annual town talent show.
“We take the first 25 that apply,” explained Malewski. “A lot of the same people apply because it’s tradition — they just love coming for it. The talent is amazing, and now that we’re getting more people in town, and more visitors, the competition is getting more fierce. It amazes me the level of the talent.
“We don’t have an age restriction, so all ages can perform all types of talents. It’s exciting to see the growth, and it gives everyone who aren’t otherwise booked on the bandstand their five minutes of fame, and their chance to shine.”
The official bandstand season usually starts Memorial Day weekend, but it will kick off this year after some special events, including the Memorial Day-weekend Poseidon Festival — which will run May 27 through June 1 and feature island-inspired entertainment, including a Jimmy Buffett Tribute finale by Parrotbeach. The Seaside Craft Show will follow, on June 3, with music by jazz duo Notes on the Beach.
“The reason for the bandstand is to add value to all the property owners here, and for the residents and visitors. We want to continue to make Bethany a place to visit. The entertainment goes that extra mile.”
Along with the bandstand entertainment, the Town also shows movies on the beach and hosts weekly bonfires and kid-oriented theater events on Wednesdays.
“Just about any night of the week, you can come to Bethany and get free entertainment for the whole family,’ said Malewski. “It’s exciting for me, because every year it gets bigger and better. Every year there’s a buzz and excitement about whose coming… It’s a thrill to be a part of it.”
For more information about entertainment events in Bethany Beach, including the full bandstand schedule, visit www.townofbethanybeach.com and look under Activities.