By Abby Cloud | Photo: Downtown Tallahassee
Nothing says summer quite like a night at Cascades Park as the sky burns with a sunset, the heat dies down, and a local band plays in front of you. Each month at Cascade’s Amphitheater, you can catch the free Sundown Concert Series taking place from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. from May and to November. The Tally Wire chatted with Elizabeth Emmanuel, the CEO for Downtown Improvement Authority, to get more information on everyone’s favorite concert series.
This is the 5th year the Downtown Improvement Authority has hosted these concerts. Since collaborating with Visit Tallahassee, the concert experience can now continue throughout the fall into early November. “This partnership came out of the response from the community asking for more concert series in Cascades,” Emmanuel explains. “The whole experience we provide is relaxed and family-friendly, so friends and families bring blankets and chairs out to enjoy a picnic and time together while great music plays.”
At the events, you can experience locally and regionally-known acts that are up-and-coming in the music industry. Emmanuel optimistically notes how, “it gives attendees the opportunity to say they heard it first here in Tallahassee.” In May, JB’s Zydeco Zoo opened for The Futurebirds and in June, headliner Blue Begonias performed after opening act Lil’ Grizzly Boogie Band.
In addition to providing a venue for local music, Cascades also hosts a variety of food and drink options for visitors. “We have food trucks set up on Suwanee street so you can get delicious mac n’ cheese from Tally Mac Shack, or a shepherd’s pie wrap from Street Chefs, there’s also the best hot dogs from Mr. V’s and snow cones from Sneauxballs,” remarks Emmanuel. The event also has a great partnership with the City of Tallahassee, who provide staff to give out free, ice cold water from their water truck while Tri-Eagle sets up a beer tent with proceeds benefiting nonprofit organizations in Tallahassee.
Another unique opportunity to experience at these concerts is watching live painting completed by local artist, Matt Miller. “In three hours, he goes from a blank canvas to a work of art,” describes Emmanuel. “His paintings can be purchased onsite—or you can just enjoy watching his craft.” And, as always, Cascades has their playground, splash pad, and walking loop for all to enjoy too.
The Downtown Improvement Authority created the Sundown Concert Series as a way to enhance and promote foot traffic in downtown Tallahassee. “When the sun sets in the summer, it’s actually really enjoyable outside, so having something fun, free, and family-friendly was really important to us as a value add for the entire community,” Emmanuel remarks. These concerts usually average 2,500 people per show. “We’ve been thrilled by the amount of people who come just to spend time with family and friends in a park setting with their community—it’s the type of event where you can sit anywhere and end up making friends with the people beside you,” she says.
On July 27, the opening act will be Jon Bellamy & the Rebels followed by The Lee Boys as the headliner. Jon Bellamy & the Rebels is a Southern rock band from Tallahassee, and The Lee Boys are a combination of soulful funk and Americana. While admission to this event is free, registering or RSVP-ing to the Sundown Concert Series through Eventbrite will get you 15% off your meal at a downtown restaurant—just show them proof of your registration.