The PP&R concerts in Sellwood Park make a post-pandemic comeback with just one this year -- includes VIDEO

DAVID F. ASHTON - As the last chord of their opening set echoed through Sellwood Park, Jenny Dont and the Spurs turned and spotted THE BEE camera trained on them from behind the stage! In years past, SMILE and Portland Parks and Recreation have presented a series of concerts in upper Sellwood Park on every Monday evening in July. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, and an end to all such events for two years.

This year, PP&R's "Summer Free For All" program began ramping up again, but with only one concert for Sellwood Park this year. It was presented on Friday, July 29, as a part of the "Summerville" weekend of community events.

Considering the sweltering high temperature on that hot July evening, Sellwood Park under the shade of the tall trees was a perfect location for an outdoor evening concert -- and a large family crowd turned out for it.

It was well above 90°, even in the shade, as the band -- Jenny Don't and the Spurs -- was doing its sound check, while adults, many with kids and some with dogs, walked in.

Some of the audience members stopped by the sponsor and nonprofit-organization booths and tables set up along the east side of the performance area, just north of the Sellwood Pool and south of the baseball diamond. But ultimately they all spread blankets on the grass, fanned themselves, some sipping beverages.

"After two years without music in the parks due to COVID, it's great that there's again music here in Sellwood Park," enthused SMILE Board Member Jim Friscia — he was also the coordinator of the concert — as he rushed off to make final arrangements before the band played.

As more and more families filtered into the park, some of them visited food vendors to purchase dinners and snacks, while others opened picnic baskets they'd brought with them.

"Being here is better than down in Sellwood Riverfront Park, where we had our concerts for many years," observed SMILE Treasurer Pat Hainley. "Certainly on a day like today when it's so hot, this is a much better venue for a concert.

"This is a good way for people to see their neighbors, make new friends, and interact with one another in a very pleasant environment," mused Hainley. "And, it provides an opportunity for people to be come more engaged with their neighborhood."

Just before the concert, staff from Portland Parks & Recreation's Summer Free For All program began giving away bags of Joe Brown's Carmel Corn.

Jenny Don't (she just winked and smiled when we asked her real name) and her band, "The Spurs", didn't let the heat slow them down one bit. Their energetic presentation of classic Country songs, "rockabilly", and pop tunes lit up the park.

The estimated 600 people who came to the concert left afterword seemingly agreeing with a local newspaper critic that, "Jenny Don't and the Spurs is widely considered the current top band in town." You can judge that for yourself in this brief BEE video at the concert —

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