By Allison Collins
BAINBRIDGE – Monday night kicked off the new weekly Rising Star Concert Series, with more than 60 attending to hear local crooner and Elvis impersonator, Aric McKown, at the General Clinton Park.
The series, organized by Rising Star Productions founder and Sidney native Jake Cotten, doubles as a way to showcase local talent while collecting supply donations for area food pantries.
“I was thinking that maybe if people had to bring a nonperishable item versus paying to get in, it would draw more people,” he said. “A lot of people try to help out the community, so now they get to (do that) and see a show at the same time.”
Despite weather woes Monday, Cotten said, early responses to the series proved strong.
“The community is really excited about it and we collected quite a bit of nonperishable items for the food bank,” he said. “We’re just looking for everyone to tell their friends and family now and we hope every week it will continue to grow. We’d like to see that park pretty packed.”
Cotten added: “We’re definitely excited to see the community involvement and it was really nice to see everybody having a good time and smiling (Monday night).”
Food pantry beneficiaries will rotate weekly, he noted, thanks to input from community members via social media. Though Cotten said he doesn’t have a specific number of items he’s hoping to collect, the goal is to see local pantry shelves full by summer’s end.
“I want to make sure that everybody is stocked up,” he said, “so that when we come into the winter season and the holidays, everybody who needs something can get what they need.”
Series planning, Cotten said, got underway last summer.
“It was when everyone else was doing their concert series and we discussed that someone should utilize the concert stage down at General Clinton Park, because it doesn’t get used very much,” he said. “So we did some research and decided that Monday was the most beneficial night for people, because there’s nothing else going on that night.”
Selection of bands and performers, he said, was determined largely by availability and artists’ willingness to volunteer their time and talent, as the series is a nonprofit effort.
Next Monday at 6 p.m., Mary Frances Perricone will open for Bad BoyZ, playing from 7 to 9.
Each installment in the series, which runs through Sept. 17, is sponsored by different local businesses.
Series highlights, Cotten said, will include a July 2 battle of the bands and five classic car cruise-ins, happening right in the park during select concerts.
For more information or a complete lineup of performers, find “Rising Star Productions” on Facebook or visit risingstarshows.com.