Summer concert series returns at Bath arts center

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BATH — For the fourth year in a row, the Chocolate Church Arts Center is offering a combination of ticketed and free shows as part of its summer concert series.

When she began as executive director of the 804 Washington St. venue in 2013, “traditionally the Chocolate Church was dark during the summer,” Jennifer DeChant said June 15. “That did not make sense to me for entertainment and for cash flow purposes. During the past four years we have been consistently building a more robust summer schedule.”

The Django Festival Allstars launches this year’s concerts with a tribute to Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 2. The Sultans of String follow, and will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4, sharing a blend of Celtic reels, Gypsy-jazz, flamenco, Cuban, Arabic and South Asian rhythms.

Local acts the Hollowbody Electric Band and Heather Pierson will open for the Aug. 4 show, which, like the July 2 performance, costs $25 in advance and $28 at the door. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office, 442-8455, or logging on to chocolatechurcharts.org.

The Southern Maine Performing Arts Collaboration production of the musical “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do” – based on Studs Terkel’s 1974 book of interviews with American workers – will be featured at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11. The high school student play delves into various walks of life, and costs $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

Along with paid concerts, the Chocolate Church also offers free admission shows – thanks to sponsorships – which draw thousands of people, according to DeChant. The arts center will produce the lineup of performances on Saturday, July 1, as part of Bath’s annual Heritage Days event.

Porch Lights, an acoustic Americana duo, kicks things off in the Library Park gazebo on Washington Street, followed by the Howligans rock and roll group; rock, folk, bluegrass and country harmonies by Pretty Girls Sing Soprano; and jazz by The Scott Davis Quartet.

The free-of-charge 6 p.m. Summer Concert Series at Waterfront Park, off Commercial Street, kicks off Saturday, July 8, with the indie and blues band the Strangely Possibles, followed by the Pan Fried Steele steel band July 15; the Big Chip Trio blues, jazz and soul group July 22; the folk DuPont Brothers July 29; the Cold Chocolate roots, Americana and bluegrass group Aug. 5; rhythm and blues, folk and soul from Papa Tim & Friends on Aug. 12, and a similar style of music from the Downeast Soul Coalition on Aug. 19.

Alison Freeman-Shipmates end the series with maritime shanties on Aug. 26.

“The summer schedule is important to the Chocolate Church as it continues to reach broader audiences and attract people into Bath, (which) has an economic impact on restaurants, shops and hospitality in the region,” DeChant said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

The Django Festival Allstars launches the Chocolate Church Arts Center’s concerts in Bath with its tribute to Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt Sunday, July 2.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.