By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — After announcing its Tuesday concerts would require paid admission last year, attendance never faltered. In 2013, Artpark officials are hopeful the same thing happens with its Wednesday shows.
Though admittedly less popular than the Tuesday offerings, Wednesday concerts have picked up a following since they began bringing more contemporary artists to Artpark's amphitheater. Artpark President George Osborne said the lineup was put together with the idea of bringing bigger, better acts to the stage, but charging a small fee to do it.
"This year, we've taken a new tact with our Wednesday series," he said. "We spent a lot more on the talent and we decided we would charge $5 for most of the Wednesday night shows. It increases the anticipation. The series has struggled a little bit with inconsistencies and this year I think we have a super lineup."
The Wednesday shows run for five weeks, with the series kicking off June 12. There won't be a July 3 show, the only break in the set. All tickets are $5 pre-sale and $10 during the week of the show, with the exception of June 19's MGMT concert, which will feature a $10 pre-sale and $15 week-of price plan.
As for the park's most attended concerts, Tuesdays will remain paid admittance for a second consecutive year. This year's lineup has some heavy hitting rock, folk and R&B artists, with the likes of Chicago, REO Speedwagon, Gladys Knight and The Doobie Brothers among those set to play the plateau.
Plucking away Chicago from other local venues was particularly pleasing to Osborne, who said the park had been trying to get the band for years.
"We just had to bide our time and we finally got 'em," Osborne said. "We were also trying to get another artist, Ringo Starr. We put out a request, but it turns out he's not touring this year. There are a couple of bands we wanted and we were able to get."
Finalizing the shows proved to be a bit more difficult than normal this year, Osborne said. Though the park made offers as far back as October, months went by without getting confirmations for many of the dates. As more and more started coming in, though, one date stayed vacant.
Looking at official publications for the concert lineup, there's a glaring omission for Aug. 6. Osborne said he came close to having to pull the proposed artists, 38 Special and Blue Oyster Cult, Tuesday evening simply because of time.
But Wednesday morning proved successful, as hours before the lineup announcement, a contract was approved and signed for the concert to take place.
"Booking concerts is difficult," Osborne said. "You put offers out there and you don't hear for months. (Tuesday) night, I told (employees) I thought we'd have to have to take them off the presentation, but we got our confirmation at 7:30 (Wednesday) morning."
Wednesday's presentation encompassed much more than just Tuesday and Wednesday concerts. Several big-name performers in other genres of music will also visit the park to perform throughout the summer, including names jazz aficionados will recognize.
Names like Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea and Buddy Guy are taking the Mainstage Theater by storm this year.
The Greater Niagara Ballet Co. is also making a return to the main stage at Artpark, following a 10-year absence. The company will perform Coppélia, a comedy, in two shows (2 and 8 p.m.) Aug. 17.
In addition to the ballet, the park will also sponsor its latest musical, The Sound of Music, for an eight performance run from July 11-19. Emilie Reiner, who played the lead in last year's Cinderella, will again lead the show.
For more on the upcoming Artpark season, turn to Night and Day.INSIDE: The full Tuesday and Wednesday night concert schedules. LOCAL 7A First Niagara presents Tuesday in the Park • JUNE 4: Billy Idol** • JUNE 11: Joan Jett and The Blackhearts • JUNE 18: REO Speedwagon • JUNE 25: Chicago** • JULY 9: The Doobie Brothers** • JULY 16: Bad Company with Paul Rodgers** • JULY 23: Blue Rodeo • JULY 30: The Machine performs Pink Floyd • AUG. 6: 38 Special with Blue Oyster Cult • AUG. 13: Lynyrd Skynyrd** • AUG. 20: Gladys Knight and The O'Jays** • AUG. 27: ZZ Top** Tickets are $5 in advance/$10 week of show **Tickets are $10 in advance/ $15 week of show Coors Light Wednesday at Artpark • JUNE 12: Gov't Mule • JUNE 19: MGMT** • JUNE 26: Dispatch • JULY 10: O.A.R. and Friends*** • JULY 17: The Flaming Lips Tickets are $5 in advance/$10 week of show **Tickets are $10 in advance/ $15 week of show *** O.A.R. concert will begin at 5 p.m. Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.