The Paducah Symphony Orchestra hasn’t played a free outdoor concert in years. That will change Saturday when about 45 PSO musicians take to the main stage of the Lower Town Arts & Music Festival.
Musicians from the symphony, as well as the symphony’s adult and youth choruses, will join about 22 regional acts for a weekend of music and art.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to show the public in a free setting what we have available,” Paducah Symphony Executive Director Daniel Sene said.
“This is a different orchestra today than it was several years ago, when we last performed outdoors,” he added.
The symphony will play pops-style selections that, like the rest of the festival’s offerings, are meant to have broad appeal to audiences. About 200 acts submitted applications for the festival, Sene said, and a selection committee narrowed them down based on quality, family-friendliness, and musical variety.
The genres represented in the three-day festival include jazz, classical, and a strong dose of bluegrass and Americana. All the acts were drawn from a 350-mile radius of Paducah.
“We love playing the festival because it’s a local thing,” said Josh Coffey, who has performed several times at the festival with local favorite Bawn in the Mash. “Lower Town’s a pretty neighborhood, and when you add in all the art and music and everybody smiling, you can’t beat a street festival,” he said.
Coffey will be playing with the Americana folk band Gideon’s Rifle this year, and said he may jump on stage with some of the other bands, too.
“If we’re in a band and you are too, we probably know each other. It’s a community,” he said.
This year’s festival features two stages. The main stage is located across from the Texaco station, while the secondary stage is at Sixth and Harrison streets. Several of the bands featured on the main stage also will play sets on the secondary stage.
The music will continue into the night with an after party featuring Bawn in the Mash and The Great Gatsby Jazz Funk Odyssey. The party will start right after festival headliners The Dirt Daubers finish their last song, Coffey said.
It will be held at Grand Lodge, 121 N. Fifth St. Admission is $10.
Another party will start at 8 p.m. at JP’s Bar & Grill, 119 Market House Square, on Saturday. Admission is $5 for ages 21 and up, and $7 for ages 18 and up.