Jazz on the Square returns to downtown Middletown for second season

Returning for its second season, Jazz on the Square will bring a music, dancing and fun to downtown Middletown this summer.

“The purpose is to provide entertainment for the community and to bring more diversity downtown,” said Michelle Novak, a Middletown City School District board member and co-founder of People’s Initiative Network.

There will be five concerts this summer in May, June, July, Aug. and Sept. Jazz on the Square will kick off from 6-9 p.m. Saturday with Audrey Whitaker-Wright & Remember and DJ Greg Hart from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Whitaker-Wright is a Middletown native, and she has a strong following in the region. She was scheduled to perform at last year’s Jazz on the Square, but the event was rained out, so Whitaker-Wright was scheduled to perform first this year.

Novak said organizers are working with downtown Middletown businesses more this year to try to make sure they will be open, so that there will be a lot of options for attendees, such as food and drinks, because the event will not provide their own. We really want to support our downtown businesses.

“It was a very friendly and welcoming environment. So, even people that didn’t know about it last year, who found themselves downtown, just came over and joined us,” Novak said.

I’m excited to have an activity like this downtown, she said. It shows people a different side of Middletown.

“My kids came with me last year, and they were glowing. I hope to see more kids this year, because it really is a family event,” Novak said.

Cal Wills, co-founder of People’s Initiative Network and one of the organizers of Jazz on the Square, said he’s looking forward to bringing something positive to downtown Middletown.

“We wanted to create something where the whole community could come out, shop at some of the stores downtown, and raise awareness about some of the restaurants. We thought jazz was universal, so we could possibly bring people from any background to gather downtown at a nice event,” Wills said.

He said the event will bring awareness to downtown as well as business to some of the small business owners, downtown.

“We thought it would be a win-win for everybody. So, it’s just trying to create something that can bring the community together,” Wills said.

Jazz on the Square is presented by People’s Initiative Network, United Way Black Empowerment Works, and Downtown Middletown Inc. Jazz on the Square was created in hopes of highlighting the city’s diversity and attracting more Black-owned and start-up businesses downtown. Last year, the events were held on Fridays, but due to potential football games, they have moved to Saturday nights this year.

“Our goal is really to get people in the habit of coming downtown for fun, entertainment, eating, and all of those kinds of things. In the warmer months, music is one of the best ways to do that. So, come down, bring your lawn chair, and enjoy the music. A lot of the businesses will be open, but if you wanted to bring a picnic, that’s great, too,” said Jeff Payne, executive director of Downtown Middletown Inc.

Guests can also take advantage of DORA by visiting the area’s restaurants and bars to get a DORA wristband and a DORA cup.

“I personally have a love of music, and really, all kinds of music, so it’s always enjoyable to just come, sit, and listen, and enjoy the sounds. So, if nothing else, it makes for a good time in the downtown,” Payne said.

Concerts will be held on the fourth Saturday of each month, May through Sept. Other concerts scheduled for this season will include El Ritmo Del Mañana on June 25; C. Baccus & Co. on July 23; LYD featuring Yolanda Drake on Aug. 27 and The Flex Crew on Sept. 24.

How to go

What: Jazz on the Square

When: Fourth Sat. of each month – May through Sept. First event is May 28, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. A DJ will perform at each concert from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by live music from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: Governor’s Square Park, Central Ave. and S. Broad St., downtown Middletown

Cost: Free, open to the public.

More info.: www.downtownmiddletown.org. Those interested in sponsorship opportunities may contact Michelle Novak at mnovak2002@gmail.com or call (513) 571-6880.

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