While the late Paul Mazza was growing up in Centre County in the 1940s, he spent many a warm summer evening listening to free live music in downtown State College, sipping a cup of lemonade he bought for a penny.
In 1989, as co-founder and president of the South Hills School of Business and Technology, he sought to revive the sense of community those summer concerts seemed to propagate.
A quarter of a century later, and one year after his death at 82, Mazza’s dream lives on as the South Hills School Music Picnic Series, a project of the Mazza Foundation for Education (www.mazzafe.org). Celebrating its 25th season, the music picnic series offers free entertainment — rain or shine — every Sunday through August.
“Local, free, outdoor music was something that (Mazza) was passionate about,” said South Hills School Corporate Training Director Jeff Stachowski, who has coordinated the festival since its inception. “This was his way of helping to create a community atmosphere in State College, where sometimes, with all the moving in and out, comings and goings, we lose track of the fact that this is really just a small local community here.”
The music picnic series kicks off this weekend with the Altoona Chorus of Sweet Adelines, an award-winning barbershop women’s troupe.The concerts are from 6 to 7:30 p.m. each week on the north lawn of South Hills School, 480 Waupelani Drive. Guests are encouraged to arrive as early as 5 p.m. and bring a picnic supper, chairs and blankets. Picnickers may want to pack beverages as well, though they may prefer to bring along a penny or two instead to purchase a glass of lemonade. (Yes — a glass of lemonade really costs just one cent.)
While Mazza would’ve spent each summer Sunday at the music picnic, he might’ve been delighted to see the variety of free (and low-cost) community music in and around the Centre Region.
Lemont’s Friday night Concerts on the Village Green kicks off June 6 with music by The Strayers. The concerts, which are from 7:30 to 9 p.m., are free, but donations support ongoing renovation of Lemont’s historic Granary. Picnics are welcome.
Tussey Mountain Amphitheater spices up Thursday nights this summer with its WingFest food and music festival gates open at 5:30 p.m. and the event lasts until 10 p.m. Admission costs $5; children age 12 and younger are free. Wings and beer, as well as other food and beverages, can be purchased inside. Rolling Stones tribute band The Glimmer Twins will open the series July 17.
Bellefonte’s Sunday evening Summer Sounds series starts June 15 with music by the Bellefonte Community Band. The free concerts are at 7 p.m. at the Talleyrand Park Gazebo. In case of rain, the music will be held in St. John’s Lutheran Church, 216 McAllister St.
Check out local talent (or show off your own) Wednesday nights in Philipsburg at the Wagon Wheel Music Park’s open mic jam sessions. Beginning June 1, the sessions will be from 6 to 9:30 p.m., and are free of charge.
Lock Haven’s biweekly Summer Concert Series is from 6 to 8 p.m. Fridays in Triangle Park, and from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Sundays at the J. Doyle Corman Amphitheater and Floating Stage. The Sunday concerts are from June 6 through Aug. 29, and the Friday shows are from June 15 through Aug. 24.
Nostalgic for familiar tunes of the past? The Catawissa 2014 Summer Breeze Concert Series is dubbed the “Summer of Tribute Bands.” Held Tuesdays from June 10 through July 8, the concert series will feature a different tribute band each week. The Loons are up first with a classic rock tribute. The free concerts begin at 7 p.m. in Cara Park, or in the case of rain, at the Catawissa Fire Company, South Fourth Street. Guests should bring chairs or blankets; concessions will be available for purchase.
Summer concert listings
Talleyrand Park Gazebo
High Street, Bellefonte
shows start at 7 p.m.
South Hills School of Business and Technology
480 Waupelani Drive, State College
shows start at 6 p.m.
Tussey Mountain Amphitheatre
Bear Meadows Road, Boalsburg
shows start at 5:30 p.m.
between Dale Street and Mount Nittany Road, Lemont
shows start at 7:30 p.m.
Wagon Wheel Music Park
Sleepy Hollow Road, Philipsburg
Bellefonte Avenue and West Main Street, Lock Haven
shows start at 6:30 p.m.
J. Doyle Corman Amphitheater and Floating Stage
Jay and Water streets, Lock Haven
shows start at 6 p.m.