RUTLAND — The Downtown Rutland Partnership recently announced its 2016 Friday Night Live Summer Concert Series lineup, this year expanding 25 percent from three headlining artists to four. Featured on the stage this year is “American Idol” winner Taylor Hicks on July 8; lead singer of 80s megahit-maker Foreigner’s Lou Gramm on July 15; nationally acclaimed Sublime tribute band Badfish on July 22; and the 2015 winner of NBC’s hit show “The Voice,” Sawyer Fredericks capping off the summer series on July 29.
All concerts are offered free of charge, begin around 8 p.m. and will feature to-be-announced local opening acts.
“After the tremendous success of the past two summer concert series, growing the lineup by 25 percent was the obvious next step in this exciting initiative,” explained Downtown Rutland Partnership Executive Director Michael Coppinger. “Downtown merchants including stores as well and restaurants and bars benefit from not only the immediate growth of foot traffic in the downtown district, which totals 2,000-3,000 per Friday night, but also from the positive energy and attention that the series generates statewide. No other city in Vermont offers this kind of headlining talent to its community for free.”
Taking place on Center Street on four different Friday nights in July, the series draws the community together to enjoy music, outdoor dining, children’s activities and more. The “Pit” parking lot at the corner of Center and Wales Street transforms into a unique, amphitheater-like concert venue, with great acoustics. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring a chair or a blanket for seating. Many area restaurants and bars also offer expanded outdoor seating within view of the stage. Past performers have included Spin Doctors, Darryl Worley and Blues Traveler’s John Popper, among others.
July 8, Taylor Hicks
Taylor Hicks is one of the most beloved and popular “American Idol” winners of all time. From the start, Hicks’ material on the mega-hit show set him apart, with a unique take on Southern soul, R&B, country and blues. Sixty-four million votes were cast and nearly 37 million American viewers and more than 200 million viewers worldwide tuned in to crown Hicks the Season 5 winner of “American Idol,” making it one of the most-watched TV events of the last decade. Hicks’ star continued to rise after he stepped off the “Idol” stage. Less than three weeks after his “Idol” victory, his debut single, “Do I Make You Proud,” entered at no. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, Pop 100, and Single Sales charts. Coinciding with the single’s release, a cover story named him People magazine’s “Hottest Bachelor of the Year.” His self-titled album “Arista,” debuted at no. 2 on the Billboard 200 and was quickly certified RIAA Platinum. In 2007, Hicks penned a brisk-selling autobiography “Heart Full of Soul.” Hicks is the first male “Idol” winner to be featured on a Grammy Award-winning album, Jimmy Fallon’s “Blow Your Pants Off,” which took home the 2013 Grammy for Best Comedy Album.
July 15, Lou Gramm
Lou Gramm, “The Original Voice of Foreigner” is one of the greatest singers in Rock music. Lou Gramm’s unique vocals and hit songs have placed Foreigner among Billboard’s Top Artists of all time. Their 16 Billboard Top 40 Hit Songs, including “I Want to Know What Love Is,” “Feels Like the First Time,” “ Juke Box Hero” and “I’ve Been Waiting for a Girl Like You,” among others, defined an era.
July 22, Badfish
Badfish is a tribute band dedicated to playing the music of 90s alt-rock band Sublime. The group is named after a song appearing on the album “40oz. to Freedom.” Formed in 2001 at the University of Rhode Island, the group’s members, who were computer science majors, began playing local Rhode Island clubs and quickly began selling out shows. They continued touring the East Coast and Midwest of the U.S., becoming popular on college campuses among Sublime fans who never were able to see the band due to lead-signer Bradley Nowell’s 1996 death. Since then the group has done multiple national tours per year. In 2008, the band was nominated for Best Tribute Act in the Boston Music Awards.
July 29, Sawyer Fredericks
Sawyer Fredericks has certainly come a long way from the 88-acre Upstate New York farm where he grew up. However, home is still a big part of his soulful, contemporary folk sound. His stark honesty and soulful delivery turned him into a national phenomenon during the eighth season of NBC’s Emmy Award-winning show “The Voice.” As part of Team Pharrell, he emerged as the youngest victor in the show’s history at just 16 years old. Moreover, he made “Voice” history, becoming the first artist to land 14 songs in the iTunes Overall Top 200 Songs Chart in one week. All in all, his digital sales exceeded 1 million cumulative singles, making him one of the show’s most successful artists ever.