NRCC SINGER and guitarist Rick Droust will bring his enthusiasm and talent to center stage Saturday at IRP. He’ll be joined by six other solo or duet acts at the first outdoor concert of the live music summer series. (Courtesy Photo)



NORTH READING — Last year, due to the COVID pandemic, the North Reading Community Coffeehouse (NRCC) had no idea when it would be able to return to its monthly live open mics. Therefore, with the help of Maria Brown and the North Reading Parks and Recreation Department, a plan was made to hold three outdoor concerts at the gazebo at Ipswich River Park, one each in July, August and September.

By any measure, these concerts were a big success. The performers loved playing in front of a live audience from the gazebo at Ipswich River Park. The 75 or so people who showed up for each concert really enjoyed being able to listen to live music for the first time in about two years. The weather was great and the Friends of the Flint Memorial Library, who work in conjunction with the NRCC, received over $1,000 in donations!

With the popularity of those concerts in mind, and once again working with the North Reading Parks and Recreation Department, the NRCC has decided to hold five concerts this year, starting this Saturday, May 21. The entire series has been scheduled on Saturdays and the dates are May 21 (4 p.m.), June 18 (4 p.m.), July 9 (4 p.m.), August 13 (3:30 p.m.), and September 17 (3:30 p.m.).

Outstanding performers have already been lined up for the concerts. All that needs to happen now is for the music lovers in North Reading and surrounding communities to come to Ipswich River Park, bring a chair, a blanket or use the benches provided at the park, and bring something to eat, then simply relax and enjoy the music. It’s free, as is the parking!

The opening concert lineup

The lineup for this Saturday’s concert features these wonderful performers: Michelle Abadia, The Dodging Frogs (Robin Bornstein and Ric Page), The Lakeside Boys (Gene Doughty and Phil Leavitt), Rick Drost, and Ed Spillert. Ric Page will also do a solo set.

As always, there will be a mix of beautiful original tunes and covers by well-known artists.

The event will also be live-streamed on the North Reading Community Coffeehouse Facebook page.

Live music to return

to the library

The NRCC monthly open mics began at the Flint Memorial Library in 2016. As with any new program, it started slowly but grew in popularity quickly. In 2018, a Performing Artist Series was added where periodically, professional-level entertainers perform.

When the pandemic started in 2020, Art Grossman, who runs the NRCC, at the suggestion of his son Dave, who is a music teacher in Plymouth, moved the open mics to a virtual platform using Zoom. Art took his son’s advice and it has been a wonderful experience, first running three virtual open mics a week and now running two a week, which he will continue doing as too much good has resulted from these virtual events; many people would be disappointed to see them end!

New friends from around the world

The virtual community, where people have met and made new friends from around the world, has helped many people through this pandemic. And with life slowly starting to return to normal, along with clarity around the library’s opening of the Activity Room, both the NRCC and the Friends of the Flint Memorial Library have decided to complete the outdoor concert season in September and then move back to the Activity Room in October. The dates are still being decided and there will be more information to come once the schedule is finalized.

One thing that Art and the NRCC plan to do going forward is to take advantage of the great performers he has met virtually and hopefully make one or two part of each month’s open mic to bring some of the outstanding talent he has met from around the world to the NRCC audience!

As with the outdoor concerts, these events are free, but refreshments are sold and there is a donation bucket. All monies raised goes to support the Flint Memorial Library. “We hope to see you there and you will be provided with a wonderful evening of live music,” Grossman attests.