If last year's crowds to the Summer Sundays Concerts were an indication of the new reality, the organizers of the popular Port Moody music series say they're ready to welcome the throngs for the 2023 shows.
The post–pandemic performances in 2022 drew between 1,000 and 3,000 visitors to Rocky Point Park per event — a record number of guests getting out to enjoy the free entertainment by the Port Moody Inlet.
The city's new policy to allow liquor in its parks, as well as promotion by a Vancouver radio station, also helped to bump up the numbers for the tourist attraction, said founder George Balzer who runs the program with his wife, Linda, and assistants Danne Dunlop and Clayton Anderson.
"The park was just filled last year," Balzer told the Tri-City News, which is also a media sponsor of the annual series with Wave 98.3 FM.
Sponsorship is what pays for the musicians' expenses plus the production team that amplifies the sound across the park, he said.
And what a lineup they have in store for this year's program:
- July 9 @ 2 p.m.: Blues Hoodoo
- July 9 @ 3:30 p.m.: The Legendary R&B Allstars
- July 16 @ 2 p.m.: Nigel Mack and the Blues Attack
- July 30 @ 2 p.m.: Eagle Eyes
- Aug. 6 @ 2 p.m.: Kalimba
- Aug. 13 @ 2 p.m.: Feelin’ Alright
- Aug. 20 @ 2 p.m.: Alexander Boynton Jr., and Cat Bevan
- Aug. 20 @ 3:30 p.m.: Soulstream
- Aug. 27 @ 2 p.m.: Tom Lavin and The Legendary Powder Blues
- Sept. 3 @ 2 p.m.: Big City Soul
Balzer said about half of this year's bands are new to the series.
"We try to balance the acts between the audience favourites and the newcomers," he said. "We like to mix things up and keep it fresh."
Besides the Sunday concerts, Balzer and his committee have also organized the 16 bands to entertain at Ribfest: Barracuda (tribute to Heart) headlines on July 21 at 7:30 p.m. while West Coast Chicago (tribute to Chicago) takes the bandshell on July 22 at 7:30 p.m.; Bad Moon Riders (tribute to CCR) closes the fest on July 23 at 6:30 p.m.
During the free shows, the series organizers will also have a kiosk open for customer service and to take charitable donations (cash or via a QR code). Since its first year in 2007, the Summer Sundays Concerts has generated more than $50,000 from attendees for the Crossroads Hospice Society, which has its palliative care centre in Port Moody.
Balzer said judging from the number of inquiries and comments online and via Facebook, interest in the Summer Sundays Concerts will be high again for 2023 "and likely better than last year. Now, a large part of our audience plans their summer around our shows."
Balzer recommends guests bring a lawn chair, blanket, picnic and sunscreen. Parking is available at the Moody Centre station, or hop on the Millennium Line and walk across the viaduct to Rocky Point Park (2800-block of Murray Street) — about a 10-minute hike.
Meanwhile, tickets are now on sale for Jake and Elwood's Blues Brothers Revue’s two shows at the Inlet Theatre (100 Newport Dr.) on Dec. 9 — a fundraiser for the music series.
You can visit the Summer Sundays website for more details or to volunteer with the organizing committee.