Get your dancing shoes ready!
Dancing on Main Street returns Saturday, Aug. 6 to Park Avenue and Church Street in downtown Amherst.
Jason Denney and the Hard Drive Band will headline this year’s music-and-brew festival, bringing a country touch to what in the past has been more rock-centric.
Teresa Gilles, director of Main Street Amherst, which sponsors the event, said she was looking for a band with more of a low-key vibe this year. More importantly, she wanted to showcase local talent.
Denney, lead vocalist and guitarist, is an Amherst resident and fit the bill perfectly, she said.
The Hard Drive was founded in 2009 and has played more than 200 venues. The band is a regular at Thirsty Cowboy in Medina, the Amherst Eagles, Shenanigans in Avon Lake, and J.F. Walleye’s on Middle Bass Island.
Bandmates John Hunyad (AKA Guitar Johnny, lead guitar and vocals), Julie KeyZ (keyboard, bass, backup vocals), Imre Balazs (drums), and Denney have also played the House Of Blues in Cleveland and and the Lorain Palace as openers for Terry Lee Goffee.
When the band takes the stage at 8:30 p.m., expect classic and modern country along with southern rock influenced by the likes of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker Band, and Garth Brooks.
But Dancing on Main Street starts with family fare from 3-5 p.m. “Kids fun zones” will be set up in the green space on Church Street (run by Great Lakes Church) and near the Pour House on Park Avenue (run by Family Fellowship).
They’ll feature bounce houses, face-painting, and games. A magician and balloon artist will also be downtown and of course there will be gyros, burgers, and other treats for sale.
A cornhole tournament will also be held in front of Park Bar & Grille (formerly Park Lanes). Sign up there in advance or the day of the event.
“We’re trying to change the event up a bit to be more family friendly during the day, then we ask the parents to take the kids home after dark for more grown-up fun,” Gilles said.
Dann Swift & Friends — a Dancing on Main Street favorite — will take the stage from 6-8:30 p.m.
More live entertainment will be offered on the Brew Kettle’s patio through the evening.
Tossing back some cold ones with friends has always been a big part of the annual event, which was originally launched to highlight Amherst’s downtown taverns.
Be sure to carry ID. You’ll need it to get a wristband, which will be the only way to get served alcohol at the bash.
Last year, some were offended when they were turned away for lack of identification proving they were of legal drinking age, Gilles said. This year, servers won’t take any chances; everyone will have to show valid ID regardless of how old they might look.
A special training session will be held Tuesday at the Main Street Community Center to train volunteers, liquor permit-holders, and bar employees on the ins and outs of safe serving. Amherst police and agents from the Ohio Investigation Unit will provide instruction on the sale of alcohol, keeping it out of the hands of minors, legal penalties, and how to cut off those who’ve had one drink too many.
“We’re trying to do our part and make sure everyone is on the same page when we do Dancing on Main Street,” Gilles said.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Courtesy photo Jason Denney and the Hard Drive, seen here performing at the House of Blues in Cleveland, will headline this year’s Dancing on Main Street event Aug. 6 in Amherst.