Friday, July 8 at 8 p.m. — RUTLAND — The Downtown Rutland Partnership begins its 2016 Friday Night Live Summer Concert Series lineup on Friday, July 8. This year expands from three headlining artists to four this summer. Featured on the stage this year is “American Idol” winner Taylor Hicks (July 8); lead singer of 80s megahit-maker Foreigner – Lou Gramm (July 15); nationally acclaimed Sublime tribute band Badfish (July 22); and the 2015 winner of NBC’s hit show “The Voice,” Sawyer Fredericks (July 29.) All concerts are offered free-of-charge, begin around 8 p.m. and will feature to-be-announced local opening acts.
Taylor Hicks is one of the most beloved and popular “American Idol” winners of all time. From the start, Hicks’ material on the mega-hit show set him apart, with a unique take on Southern soul, R & B, country and blues. Sixty-four million votes were cast and nearly 37 million American viewers and more than 200 million viewers worldwide tuned in to crown Hicks the Season 5 winner of “American Idol,” making it one of the most-watched TV events of the last decade. Hicks’ star continued to rise after he stepped off the “Idol” stage. Less than three weeks after his victory, his debut single, “Do I Make You Proud,” entered at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, Pop 100, and Single Sales Charts. Coinciding with the single’s release, a cover story named him People magazine’s “Hottest Bachelor of the Year.” His self-titled album (Arista), debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 and was quickly certified RIAA Platinum. In 2007, Hicks penned a brisk-selling autobiography “Heart Full of Soul.” Hicks is the first male “Idol” winner to be featured on a Grammy Award-winning album, Jimmy Fallon’s “Blow Your Pants Off,” which took home the 2013 Grammy for Best Comedy Album.
“After the tremendous success of the past two summer concert series, growing the lineup by 25 percent was the obvious next step in this exciting initiative,” explained Downtown Rutland Partnership Executive Director Michael Coppinger. “Downtown merchants including stores as well as restaurants and bars benefit from not only the immediate growth of foot traffic in the downtown district, which totals 2,000-3,000 per Friday night, but also from the positive energy and attention that the series generates statewide. No other city in Vermont offers this kind of headlining talent to its community for free.”
Taking place on Center Street on four different Friday nights in July, this series draws the community together to enjoy music, outdoor dining, children’s activities and more. The “Pit” parking lot at the corner of Center and Wales Street transforms into a unique, amphitheater-like concert venue, with great acoustics. Concert goers are encouraged to bring a chair or a blanket for seating. Many area restaurants and bars also offer expanded outdoor seating within view of the stage. Past performers have included Spin Doctors, Darryl Worley and Blues Traveler’s John Popper among others.