Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Town Square becoming a local hotspot for music

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As you know by now, Town Square is the place to be. In this case, it is the place to be for music.

The Thursday night Concert in the Square series continues this week with Seamus Kennedy, named ‘‘Best Irish⁄Celtic Male Vocalist” by the Washington Area Music Association every year from 1996 until the category was retired. He offers a combination of Irish jigs, reels, ballads and humor.

On Sept. 6, catch The Crimestoppers, a five-piece band that plays ‘‘arresting rock and blues,” including hits by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Jackson, Los Lobos, the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, the Blasters and Jimi Hendrix.

On Sept. 13, the Rockville Singers will take the stage. The 20-member vocal ensemble performs a wide-ranging repertoire including show tunes, folk songs, patriotic music and classics from various genres and includes Rockville Economic Development Inc.’s associate director, Lynne Benzion.

All concerts run 6-8 p.m. And don’t forget to bring your folding chair or blanket.

This Sunday from noon to 4 p.m., the City of Rockville will present ‘‘Uncorked, The Rockville Wine Festival.” The event, the first of its type in Rockville, will feature Maryland wines, with unlimited tastings of the best offerings from Solomons Island Winery (Calvert County), Basignani Winery and Boordy Vineyards (Baltimore County), St. Michael’s Winery (St. Michael’s), Elk Run Winery (Mount Airy) and Frederick Cellars (Frederick).

While sipping, you can hear jazz by The Barry Gurley Quartet and watch cooking demonstrations by Greystone Grill and Lebanese Taverna (now open in Town Square). Whole Foods will offer samples of locally produced artisan cheeses from FireFly and Hendricks Farms, chutneys from The Virginia Chutney Company, and Hofdingi and Stori-Dimon cheeses, both from Iceland.

Admission to the festival is $10 (must be 21 years or older to consume alcohol) and will include a commemorative wine glass for the first 1,500 paid visitors. Tickets can be bought on site.

On Sept. 7, the City will host its first ‘‘First Friday” party from 5 to 7 p.m. The Square will be turned into a ‘‘Biergarten” featuring Gordon Biersch brews and music by Jah Works, a Baltimore reggae band that mixes in dancehall, hip hop and original lyrics. The band has taken its music to American service personnel all over the world. A Town Square restaurant will provide hors d’oeuvres to complement the cash bar.

Looking ahead, the Rockville Music Festival and Hard Times Chili Cook-off will feature multiple stages of music on Sept. 29 from noon to 6 p.m.

Texan Steve Holy blends influences from 1950s rock and roll, pop and traditional country in his original music, which has been featured on at least four movie soundtracks; his second album debuted at No. 2 on the country charts last year. Nashville singer-songwriter Sarah Buxton, D.C. alternative country band Leaving TX, and Washington Area Music Association folk-duo award winners Cletus Kennelly and Lori Kelly will round out the lineup.

But for many people, the center-stage act is the chili. Up to 75 champion chili cooks will compete in multiple categories for prizes, including the right to compete in the National Chili Cook-off. Will Mayor Larry Giammo compete again? If so, will he best his third-place finish of last year? For more information on the event, or to enter, visit for more details.

Sally Sternbach is executive director of Rockville Economic Development Inc., the private-public economic development arm of the City of Rockville. This is part of a series of columns written in conjunction with the opening of Rockville Town Square, the new mixed-use redevelopment project in the heart of the city.