Downtown Sumter still rocking away

Joe Sanford Band offers blues, R&B at 4th Friday

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Downtown Sumter's outdoor concert series, Fourth Fridays, continues for three more months, with the Joe Sanford Band taking the stage at 6:30 p.m. on July 28.

The band is familiar to people who've attended previous downtown Sumter events, although this is the group's first time playing for Fourth Fridays.

"We're a group of musicians who play regularly on Wednesdays at Pizza Lane," Sanford said. He's the band leader and lead singer, and also plays guitar and writes some music for the band.

"We'll play a little of everything, but mostly bluesy music and R&B," Sanford said.

Additional personnel include Curtis Gallishaw, bass and vocals; Thomas Bethea, guitar; Traylin Gastone, drums and vocals; and Hap Griffin, guitar. Bert Taylor is sound man for the band.

Sanford said the band will be playing "mostly covers, but we'll also play a half dozen or so originals."

He's been writing music for years and has recorded three CDs, which will be available for purchase at the concert.

Downtown Development Coordinator Leigh Newman said the new location for Fourth Fridays, the Sumter County Courthouse lawn, has been very popular with the crowds.

"I think they like it even better than (previous locations)," she said. "People and families arrive early and spread out their blankets or set up their chairs. There's a lot more lawn, and there's definitely more shade, especially around the perimeter."

Newman also said many in the audience have enjoyed dancing to the music of the bands.

"They even get up and line dance to the recorded music that's played during the band's break," she said.

Food and beverages are available for purchase during the 6:30 to 9 p.m. concert. Newman said Ronnie Jefferson's "fair food" is popular, as are the fish and shrimp tacos prepared by Curtis Hopkins of From Me to You.

"The Sertoma Club has beer, and Italian ice is very popular," Newman said. "People are coming earlier and staying longer. We also give away 'swag' - koozies and small plastic footballs with the downtown logo."

She also reports that Downtown Sumter Rocks, a program started in May, "has really taken off."

Downtown Sumter Rocks has several dozen decorated rocks hidden throughout downtown for people to find, with valuable prizes available.

The project has become self-sustaining, Newman said.

"People are making their own decorated rocks and hiding them," she said. "Somebody even found one in the corner of an elevator at (Palmetto Health) Tuomey. The Junior Optimist Club did rocks as a project. A lot of people are going downtown to look for rocks."

Admission to the Fourth Friday concert on the Sumter County Courthouse Lawn is free to the public. The Joe Sanford Band will play from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on July 28. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Fourth Fridays Concert Series is a family friendly event.

Still to come in the series are Jus Tru Blak on Aug. 25 and Terence Lonon and the Untouchables on Sept. 22.