Bethany bandstand ready to rock-n-roll

It’s been a long row to hoe for Bethany Beach Entertainment Coordinator Gloria Farrar and other town officials.

The town council first approved a design for a renovated bandstand and town-center plaza in early 2004. Though wishes might have had the project completed in time for the 2005 summer season, prudence caused them to put the construction start off until the fall of 2005, to better ensure no interruption to the annual slate of summer bandstand performances.

Ground was finally broken in November of 2005 and construction started in December, but a series of engineering re-calculations added weeks to the timetable.

That meant canceling the full month of June performances as the spring of 2006 came to a close — something that disappointed Farrar at least as much as those visitors who have come to expect entertainment on the bandstand several nights a week during the summer.

But construction of the town’s renovated bandstand is finally nearing its completion, and the town is ready to celebrate with both the anticipated remaining slate of summer performances and some additions to the schedule — just in time for the Fourth of July weekend.

Bandstand nearly ready

“According to the builder, as of this morning, we’re three weeks away,” Town Manager Cliff Graviet said Tuesday. “The top level will be open for performances July 1,” he added.

Graviet said work on the lower level of the bandstand area was proceeding into the final few weeks, with pavers and steps up to a larger area still being put in place. As for the rest of the project, he said it was “largely done, with primarily trim or painting to be completed.”

“At the boardwalk level, it will be ready for them to perform on the bandstand,” he promised, while noting the remaining construction timetable was still contingent on weather.

With that update, Farrar not only gave the go-ahead on performances already scheduled to take place at the bandstand for the Fourth of July weekend but also added two performances.

Performances to begin June 30

“To be sure, the construction isn’t finished. But enough is finished to where we can start having shows,” Farrar said happily Tuesday. “Everyone’s been waiting for that.”

Indeed, the performances will kick off Friday, June 30, slightly ahead of schedule, with the 287th National Guard Stage Band at 7:30 p.m. “They are anxious to have a performance in the town,” Farrar said.

Completely new to the weekend’s schedule of performances is the Monday, July 3, performance by the Southern Delaware School of the Arts steel band, Steel the Show, and SDSA’s Plenty Problems. That will also start at the standard bandstand performance time of 7:30 p.m.

Rounding out the planned acts that will get to perform on the new bandstand this weekend are Captain Quint, a Jimmy Buffet tribute band, on Saturday, July 1; Fab Mania, a Beatles tribute band on Sunday, July 2 (special show time of 7 p.m.); the Philadelphia Brass Band to cap off July 4 events at 7:30 p.m.; and the Delaware National Guard Band on Wednesday, July 5.

New acts and veterans to grace bandstand

From there, it’s a traditional summer performance season, full of both anticipated veterans and newcomers to the Bethany Beach bandstand.

“I am excited about all the acts,” Farrar said. “A new one is Still Surfin’, the Friday of Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1. They are a Beach Boys tribute band. And on Friday, July 14, there’s Flumpa the Giant Frog — an interactive musical, science adventure for children of all ages.”

On July 9, it will be the United States Naval Academy concert band ensemble, “for the first time on our stage,” Farrar noted. And the USNA will return to entertain on July 23, with the Electric Brigade. “We are excited about that,” Farrar said.

Also of note for Farrar: an Aug. 27 performance by the Jazz Pioneers. “They are the group that played the New Orleans jazz at town hall to a standing ovation,” she said, referring to the series of cultural events sponsored by the town’s Cultural and Historical Affairs Committee over the winter.

Another highlight, according to Farrar should be Al Santoro and the Hi-Liters on Aug. 6. “They play a variety of music. He’s a great sax player,” Farrar commented.

“The Navy Sea Chanters are a group we haven’t had in a few years,” Farrar noted. “They’re a big chorus and they were cancelled last year due to rain.” Originally scheduled for June 18, the Sea Chanters nearly didn’t get the chance to appear again this year, but that performance has been rescheduled for Thursday, Aug. 10.

“A perennial favorite is the talent show,” Farrar said, noting that the annual event doesn’t just garner participants from Bethany Beach. “A lot of people from Georgetown and Millsboro come down, especially some of the dance troupes.” The talent show is set for Friday, Aug. 25, with registration for acts between Aug. 1 and 17.

From dance groups to tribute acts and even children’s theater, the summer’s slate of performances promises to use the new bandstand to the fullest, providing entertainment for all ages and tastes several times each week.

The series will close out on Labor Day weekend, with that Sept. 1 performance from Still Surfin’, Jesse Garron’s Tribute to Elvis (8 p.m.) on Sept. 2 and the U.S. Army Volunteers’ rock-and-roll on Sept. 3. The bandstand will get its last official use of the summer on Saturday, Sept. 9, with the annual art show and sale sponsored by the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce.

It’s been a long time coming, but now that it’s finally here, people throughout the town and beyond are more than ready to welcome the new bandstand and all the entertainment it will provide.