Live After 5 concert series keeps folks rockin’ and rollin’ in Ontario

The Beatles tribute band, West Abbey Road, was the third group to perform since this year’s concert series kicked off in June. (The Enterprise/Isabella Garcia).

ONTARIO — Ontario locals may have had a hard day’s work, but they certainly didn’t have a hard day’s night as they listened to West Abbey Road, a Beatles cover band, at the Four Rivers Cultural Center Wednesday, July 10.

The event was the third show in FRCC’s Live After 5 summer concert series. Every other week for 12 weeks the center hosts a band and local food vendor in the Japanese garden for free. The Beatles show, catered by Second & Vine Bistro and sponsored by Yturri Rose, brought over 300 people to the garden, filling all of the tables and spilling out into the lawn. The cultural center’s executive director, Matt Stringer, said that 300 to 400 attendees is the typical crowd size, but some concerts have attracted as many as 700.

“I’m of a mind to produce events that community members love for free,” Stringer said.

The summer concert series started in 2012 while Stringer was trying different events that could engage the community with the center. After two of the first installments attracted over 300 attendees, it was clear Stringer had found a strong event that the community enjoyed.

Thus, the Live After 5 concert series was born. The biweekly concerts are sponsored by a local business or organization to help mitigate costs and the food vendors get to keep all of their profits while simultaneously gaining name recognition.

In addition to the rocking Beatles tunes, sounds of chatter, laughter and singing filled the garden space. Attendees were clearly enjoying themselves.

Long-time residents Leila and Dwight Lockett, mother and son, have been attending the concerts since the series started in 2012.

 “It’s a great event,” Dwight said, adding that the music is always good and it’s nice to have a place to gather with other members of the community.

That’s why Stringer and the cultural center have found ways to sustain the costly concert series. Between the costs of the performers, advertising, labor in setting up and removing the stage and other production costs, the expenses of each event far outweigh what Stringer feels he can ask from each sponsor. But, it’s events like this, ones that bring the community together, that Stringer says is the whole purpose of the cultural center.

“What makes it worth it is knowing it’s an event that the community enjoys,” Stringer said. “That’s why we’re here. We’re supposed to be a place where different people get together.”

Reporter Isabella Garcia: [email protected] or 541-473-3377

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