Saturday, June 16, 2012

Outdoor concerts in the Lehigh Valley

Last Saturday, we planned a full day of activities with our friends visiting from out of town: Walk to downtown Bethlehem with Stella. Breakfast from Johnny’s Bagels eaten at a sidewalk café table. A long walk on canal towpath. Host friends for a BBQ celebrating the Belmont Stakes race. Attend a benefit concert at the ArtsQuest Center at Steelstacks. I need a nap just reading about it.

On our walk, we heard music coming from across the Lehigh River from an earlier concert. I pointed out to my friends where we’d be (“just on the other side of those rusted, hulking furnaces!”), and received puzzled looks. 
When we arrived at 8:30 p.m., just as the sun was setting, the free concert at Levitt Pavilion was wrapping up. Hundreds of blues fans were sprawled over the lawn with blankets and camping chairs, enjoying snacks and drinks and the beautiful night air. Across Founder’s Way we found the stage we were looking for, on the Air Products plaza. Mark’s aunts and uncles are members of a cover band called “Call Your Mama” that was scheduled to play al fresco that evening. As soon as the Levitt show wrapped up, the stage came alive with music. The plaza was packed with people seated under large umbrellas at café tables. Many people who were at the show at the Levitt Pavilion turned their chairs around and enjoyed the second act. Even more fans milled around the plaza before and after taking in a movie inside the ArtsQuest center. As the momentum began to build, dozens of people began making their way to the dance floor, just in front of the stage, enjoying the sounds of “Brick House” and “Love Shack” and basking in the glow of the uplit blast furnaces just yards away. As the students who attended Phillipsburg High School’s prom filtered out of the building, many joined the party already in progress on the dance floor (adding a little sparkle to the crowd – literally). Many patrons chose to stay put and watch the show from tables, ordering drinks and food from servers and watching the whole scene. When the show ended at 11 p.m., and we walked back to our cars, we wondered aloud what all those people would have been doing were there no such thing as SteelStacks.

By no means is SteelStacks the only place to get your al fresco music fix in the Lehigh Valley. Check out The Morning Call's search tool to find the kind of entertainment you like (kid-friendly, festivals, concerts, and more) somewhere near you.

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