In the seven years since organizers launched the Town Square Concert Series, the audience has grown from about 100 people to more than 1,000 spectators at most shows.
The series, one of several in the Triangle during summertime, gives Clayton-area residents an entertainment option close to home, said Richard Rairigh, president of the series’ organizer, the Clayton Downtown Development Association.
“With a growing population in Clayton, it allows people to do these things without having to drive too far,” Rairigh said.
Other nearby concert series are at North Hills in Raleigh and the Garner Performing Arts Center. Flowers Plantation, a residential community off N.C. 42 east of Clayton, started its own concert series this year. The monthly concerts are in the Harris Teetered-anchored shopping center at N.C. 42 and Buffalo Road.
The first show in the 2014 Town Square concert series was supposed to be May 15, but organizers moved it to May 29 because of rain. The rescheduled show will feature Southern Grace, a country and rock band that will take the stage at 7 p.m. The series continues through September, with shows on the third Thursday of each month on Town Square, 110 W. Main St.
Also on this summer’s schedule:
• BrickHouse, a Raleigh band that plays hits by artists like Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and CeeLo Green.
• Steve Owens and Summertime, an original beach music and soul band from Roanoke Rapids.
• Mostley Crue, a Motley Crue tribute band based in Raleigh.
• Nantucket, a rock band born in Jacksonville. The band, which plays original music, has opened for artists like Journey and The Doobie Brothers.
“We try to bring stuff people want to hear,” said Bruce Naegelen, Clayton’s downtown-development coordinator. “Beach music is popular, and there is a beach music band this year, but we also like to bring a variety of things, because there are different audiences.”
The concerts are free, with food and drink for sale. A few years ago, Naegelen said, vendors started selling beer and wine, which helped boost attendance.
Rairigh said while the series has grown in size, it has seen no safety problems. “That says a lot about the crowd and the people,” he said. “People tend to sit back and enjoy music with their families.”
The Town of Clayton spends about $19,000 annually on the concert series, said Town Manager Steve Biggs. The shows also enjoy support from private sponsors.
“The model we like to use is leverage town dollars with dollars that are donated or provided through sponsorships,” Biggs said of arts and entertainment events. “The projects have community basis and have overall greater value.”
During this year’s concert series, the Downtown Development Association will again support the BackPack Buddies program, which provides needy students with weekend meals. In partnership with the Woman’s Club of Clayton, organizers will seek donations while they hand out free drink koozies. Last year, concert series donations for the program totaled $550.
Concert-goers are allowed to bring lawn chairs and blankets to the shows but not coolers.
For more information, go to www.downtownclayton.org.