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L.L. Bean concert series in Freeport supports local charities

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L.L. Bean concert series in Freeport supports local charities

FREEPORT — This is 11th year L.L. Bean is hosting a free summer concert series, but the first year the events have a charitable element.

Bean spokeswoman Kathy Whitney said concert-goers are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to the 12 concerts. She said the donations will help benefit the Food Pantry at the Freeport Community Center and the Wayside Soup Kitchen in Portland. People will also have an opportunity to make cash contributions in addition to bringing canned goods.

"I think people will respond well to the food drive," Whitney said. "I think the audience will be happy to donate for a local cause and the word will continue to spread throughout the summer."

In addition to the local food donations, on Saturday, July 11, the Maine chapter of the Pajama Program will partner with Bean, Time Warner Cable and the 24-hour preschool television channel Sprout to host a Community Pajama Party in Discovery Park. The concert will feature Dan Zanes, an artist known for music for children and families. All concert-goers are encouraged to wear pajamas and bring a new book or new pair of pajamas to donate. For every donation brought to the concert that night, Sprout and Time Warner Cable will make a matching contribution to "The Great Sprout Tuck-In," a program that supports every child's right to warm pajamas and a book to read at night.

Because younger children may want to participate, Whitney said there will be two concerts that night, one at 4:30 p.m. and the other at 7:30 p.m. "You are getting two for one for your donation," she said. "There will be children in Maine who will receive new books and pajamas because of our participation."

While charity is a new focus of the series, Whitney said the performers are very impressive this year. Some of the headliners include Blues Traveler on Aug. 1, Dar Williams on Aug. 8, The Wallflowers on Aug. 15 and Asleep at the Wheel on Sept. 6.

Whitney said because the L.L. Bean Summer Concert Series has been active for 10 years, it has become more credible as a good venue and has attracted bigger names each year. In 2007, the 95th anniversary of L.L. Bean sparked a new level of performers, she said, bringing in the Indigo Girls, Bela Fleck and Arlo Guthrie.

"We set a new bar then, and really cranked it up," she said.

The series always includes a variety of performers and highlights different musical styles to try to please a wide-ranging audience.

Although the economy has been tight and the company has made several cuts over the past year, Whitney said there is no plan to charge for the concerts.

"This is something we are proud of, it is our gift to the community," she said. "This event lends itself to community members and tourists and is unique in Maine. It is part of our business plan, and will remain free for the public."

Whitney said weather has not affected the concerts much in the past, but if people want to know if the shows are still on, they should call 877-755-2326. That number will provide directions, event listings and an operator to speak to.

For more information on the summer concert series, visit the L.L. Bean Web site.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net.