Hundreds who turned out Thursday night and enjoyed a free, fun evening of live band music on the City Hall lawn in Fairpark helped realize a goal of the city’s Quality of Life Committee and the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association: Make Tupelo’s communitywide events more fully reflective of what people enjoy.
Now-Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said when he assumed office as chairman of the Community Development Foundation four years ago that Tupelo needed to enhance its “cool city” image to make its residential potential more attractive for young adults moving into the job market.
Reed welcomed the hundreds (of all ages) who came to the first Down on Main Concert, precisely the kind of event and atmosphere many people look for when making decisions about where they want to live.
Judging by the Thursday night crowd, a lot of people have been waiting for precisely the kind of event offered: Two hot, regional bands, contemporary music and a thoroughly relaxed atmosphere.
Tupelo for many years has celebrated Independence Day with music and fireworks at Ballard Park, but that is an occasion and a tradition.
The Down on Main concert series is a more spontaneous kind of entertainment requiring less time commitment than an all-day themed celebration like the Ballard Park July 4 extravaganza.
Two more concerts are planned in the Down on Main Street series this year – one each in August and September.
Tupelo can follow plenty of successful concert programs in other cities, drawing on their valuable experience..
Every town, of course, plans its concerts to reflect the community’s preferences and the target audience – and the funds available.
Major cities like New York, Chicago and St. Louis have appropriately impressive concert schedules, but Tupelo’s musical connections are worthy of comparison.
The Aug. 3 evening in New York’s Central Park will feature a film about a musician familiar to Tupelo audiences because of a concert during a past Elvis Presley Festival. The film “Throw Down Your Heart” follows American banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck on his journey to Africa to explore the African roots of the banjo. Fleck is considered one of the premier banjo players in the world, and he was here in downtown Tupelo.
The point is that Tupelo can bring bands and individuals to its concert that are world-class musicians, and some will be bound for fame and fortune, but performed first here, as diid a rising star named Elvis Presley 53 years ago.
Presley, not coincidentally, played to an enraptured crowd of thousands in 1956 on almost the exact spot where the Down on Main Street series started last week.
NEMS Daily Journal