‘Wow, it’s a big success’

ELIZABETHTOWN — The downtown area of Elizabethtown was filled with a variety of beach music and oldies on Thursday by one of the best-known and widely followed bands in the Carolinas.

The Band of Oz opened the Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s Summer Sounds Concert Series at the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market to a crowd that easily swelled past the 500 mark.

“I couldn’t be happier — very pleased; wow, it’s a big success,” said Dawn Maynard, executive director of the chamber. “We have more people here in the first 45 minutes of the concert than we did all of last year.”

Despite a temperature that wouldn’t let go of the 90s early into the evening, folks continued to stream into the Farmer’s Market area for a chance to enjoy the free three-hour concert. Many of those made their way to the front of the bandstand to do some shagging — or their own version of it.

But whether they shagged, remained in their chairs or hung back closer to the beverage tent, everyone seemed to enjoy the Band of Oz’s mix of music that included their famous beach music along with hits from the likes of Chicago, Bruno Mars and Ceelo Green.

One of those enjoying the concert with her husband was Linda Melvin of Elizabethtown.

“We just like to support community events like this,” she said. “And we really like this band. We try to see them anytime we can.”

Band of Oz, which hails out of Raleigh and is one of the longest-running bands on the East Coast beach music scene with four decades under their belt, didn’t disappoint. From “Shama Lama Ding Dong” to “Hold Back the Night” to “Give Me a Sign” to “Lady Soul” to “Over the Rainbow” and their mix of oldies throughout the evening kept the crowd dancing or toe-tapping.

For Eddie Madden, town manager in Elizabethtown who led the charge to bring the Farmer’s Market to the downtown business district a few years ago, the event is icing on the cake.

“We’re very appreciative of the Chamber bringing something like this to a facility that is a real asset to the community,” he said. “This will attract 200, 300 or more people here — some coming for the first time, some from out of town. It’s just a good thing for the downtown area.”

As the eight-member Band of Oz continued to fill the downtown area with music and many in the crowd sang along, Maynard said it was a perfect way to kick off the four-event series.

“All four of the bands we have coming here have a good following and will bring a good crowd,” she said. “We (the Chamber) appreciate the sponsors at every level for helping us to make this possible, and I really hope the community will continue to embrace this concert series next year so it will continue to grow.”

The Summer Sounds series will continue at the Farmer’s Market on Thursday, July 23, with North Tower; Thursday, Aug. 13, with the Fantastic Shakers; and wrap up on Thursday, Aug. 27 with Blackwater Rhythm and Blues. All concerts are free and run from 6 to 9 p.m.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.