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Annual series featuring wide range of bands, styles kicks off its 10th season at the Gresham Arts Plaza on July 1

If you go

What: Music Mondays, a weekly summer series featuring live music, food, drink and fun activities

When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, July 1 through Monday, Aug. 26 (4:30-8:30 p.m. Aug. 12)

Where: Gresham Center for the Arts Plaza, Northeast Second and Third streets between Hood and Kelly avenues, downtown Gresham

Admission: Free

Visit: www.greshamcenterforthearts.org/music-mondays/

COURTESY PHOTO - The 234th Army Band, a unit of the Oregon Army National Guard, is a full concert band comprising 40 members as well as smaller ensembles including 45 Away, its rock/pop ensemble, which will kick off Music Mondays on July 1 at the Center for the Arts Plaza in downtown Gresham. What started as a simple idea to bring music and liveliness to downtown Gresham on a traditionally quiet evening has turned into a beloved summer tradition for 10 years running.

Sponsored by the Gresham Center for the Arts Foundation, Music Mondays returns weekly sounds to the Plaza for the Arts starting Monday, July 1, with 45 Away: 234th Oregon National Guard Army Band, and concluding Aug. 26 with the Cherry Blossom Orchestra.

Between those dates are seven Mondays featuring a wide range of musical styles — Texas honky-tonk, classic rock, Latin, bluegrass, blues-rock, and Top-40 party music among them — along with food and beverage vendors, and fun and games for children and adults. All the events are free and open to the general public.

Sue O'Halloran, president of the Center for the Arts Foundation, is pleased to see the idea to spice up summer evenings downtown has turned into something so many people look forward to.

"I think we bring in really interesting music — professional musicians that ordinarily, if folks went to see them, it would cost money," she said. "It's free music with a wide variety of musical genres by professionals. Kids can run around in the grass areas while their parents listen to music and bring picnics. People even set up tents. It really is a gathering spot."

Music Mondays draws participants and fans of individual acts from well beyond Gresham's borders, O'Halloran noted.

"People come from all over our area: East Portland, Troutdale, Fairview, Damascus, Happy Valley. The music now is the real draw because of the talent we bring," she said. "I think it's also fun because the musicians get to interact with people in the audience. "They get the audience engaged. Kids get up and dance. We have someone with a Hula Hoop (moving) to the music … It's a fun summer event."

COURTESY PHOTO - Rich Layton & Tough Town, who recently changed their name from The Troublemakers, will deliver Texas honky-tonk, country, blues and American roots music to Music Mondays on July 8.  n July 15 — Remedy: classic rock, jazz, funk and croon music from the 1970s, 80s and 90s; The high point of the series is the Party on the Plaza on Monday, Aug. 12, featuring the versatile Top 40 band Hit Machine.

"We have a whole bunch of food vendors, wine and beer, games for kids. That is a real party on the plaza," O'Halloran said. "It draws usually 2,500 to 3,000 folks."

Making the Party on the Plaza and Music Mondays look fun and effortless, she admitted, takes a lot of advance planning and help from music bookers, vendors and volunteers.

The event's ongoing success and growth, however, makes it all worthwhile.

"Every year we see more and people," she said. "I have several people say to me (at each event), 'This is part of my summer tradition.'

"It's something people really do look forward to."COURTESY PHOTO - Now in its 10th year, Music Mondays draws fans from far and wide to gather and have fun at the Plaza for the Arts.

Here is this summer's Music Monday schedule. All shows are 6:30-8:30 p.m. unless noted otherwise.

July 1 — 45 Away: 234th Oregon National Guard Army Band: A crowd favorite returns with high energy pop music and vocals

July 8 — Rich Layton & Tough Town, aka The Troublemakers: Texas honky-tonk, a little country and blues and American roots music

July 15 — Remedy: classic rock, jazz, funk and croon music from the 1970s, '80s and '90s

July 22 — Shani Rose: Contemporary sounds, soulful and heartfelt with catchy lyrics and melodies

July 29 — Son of Trees: Latin rhythms, cha-cha to rumba, classics from Mexico, Guatemala and Brazil

Aug. 5 — True North: Bluegrass and traditional folk, "crazy good" picking and harmonies

Aug. 12 — (6:30-8:30 p.m.) Party on the Plaza with The Hit Machine: Legendary Top 40 party band bringing dance hits from every era

Aug. 19 — Timothy James: A local sensation, featuring five blues-driven guitar players

Aug. 26 — Cherry Blossom Orchestra: Big band swing and jazz music, celebrating New Orleans jazz legend Louis Armstrong


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