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Picture this: The summer heat is melting into a pleasantly warm evening. You’re unrolling your blanket in the grass to the sounds of chatting neighbors, kids laughing, and picnics being unwrapped. Across the park lawn, a band sets up their stage and vendors hand tantalizing fair favorites to customers. A breeze carries wafts of sweet cotton candy to your spot. You exchange light conversation with the friends next to you, send the kids to the playground, and sip an ice-cold soda until the emcee steps up to the microphone to welcome everyone and announce the opening band.

This scene is one that Lewis County locals and their guests anticipate every summer at Music in the Park, a free concert series held at Chehalis parks. The long-standing tradition is back this year at Recreation Park in Chehalis with a diverse lineup of musicians vetted by both local and national audiences.

The fun begins on Friday, July 22nd at 6:30 P.M. Listeners will tap their boots to the voices of Michelle Wright and Ty Herndon for Country Night, a staple genre in our rural county.

Wright frequented music charts and award ceremonies in Canada through the nineties and has ranked in the U.S. with hits like “Take It Like a Man” and “New Kind of Love.” Herndon is a returning Music in the Park headliner. His 20 years in country music have earned him a Dove award, Grammy nomination, and more than a few top 10 songs.

Week Two opens at 6:30 P.M. on July 29 with the Music in the Park’s Technical Director, Randy Linder. His CCR tribute band played last year’s finale. This year, they will open for headliner Kalimba, “The Spirit of Earth, Wind and Fire.” Former Earth, Wind and Fire guitarist Sheldon Reynolds praised this Pacific Northwest group as their best tribute. Kalimba is certain to move some feet for Pop, Rock and Funk Tribute Night.

The final part of this free concert series will bring Classic R&B, Soul, Blues & Rock to the ears of Chehalis attendees. Headliner Marc Broussard and company will play the last two sets of Music in the Park, starting at 7pm. The son of a hall-of-famer guitarist from Louisiana, Broussard thrived in the music scene of Lafayette. He played to national applause after a successful EP release and spotlight on radio at only 20 years old.

To attend any of these shows, you need only bring your own seats and blankets. Admission is free and both street and lot parking are available. Food vendors will also be attending if you would rather skip filling the cooler! (Reminder: alcohol is prohibited in Chehalis city parks). Festivities don’t end at the last verse, either. Fans can stick around for the chance of a meet & greet after each show, or head to McFiler’s downtown for the official after party.

As far as summer activities go, it’s hard to go wrong with free, quality music in a beautiful downtown park alongside friends and family of all ages. Between the setting, the community involvement, and the vibes, Chehalis Music in the Park combines all the best parts of the small-town experience. The entire concert series is sponsored, produced, and largely attended by local businesses and community members. Its largest sponsor is the City of Chehalis itself, with other contributors such as the Eli Sports Network (producer), Mills General Contracting, Alderson’s Awards West Printwares, KMNT/KELA radio, and more.

For full details on the Music in the Park lineup, see The Chronicle’s coverage here.

Written by Chelsea Barr