Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times B.C. Hudson jams on Church Street during the first Walkin’ on Wednesdays downtown part of the year.
B.C. Hudson grinned, fingers flying up the neck of his shiny Gretsch for a wailing blues solo Wednesday.
A few feet away, Skip Werke kept the rhythm and strummed out a blues riff, throwing friendly nods to passerby.
“We’ve been doing this for years, playing together and having a great time,” Werke said. “But it feels real good today.”
The guitarists brought a little bit of a Bourbon Street feel to Church Street as part of the first Walkin’ on Wednesdays event of 2015 in downtown Amherst.
All over the historical shopping district, different flavors could be found: vocalists from Great Lakes Church sang at the Five Points while rockers Less Than 88 played in front of the Pour House on Park Avenue.
Guitarist Jacob Watkin performed at Arabica and the Acoustic Tuma duo of Chris Tuma and Mike Karns played on the Amherst Public Library lawn.
Other acts provided a patchwork soundtrack for shoppers and diners through the evening, while champion baton-twirler Madison Eis taught her skills to young kids and parents alike at city hall. The Fusion Twirlers also showed off on Church Street while the First Baptist Church youth group handed out water across the street.
“It probably is the best-attended Walkin’ on Wednesday we’ve had so far and this is our fourth year,” said Teresa Gilles, director of Main Street Amherst.
The festival atmosphere did a world of good for local businesses that ran specials and sidewalk sales, she said.
“People have to realize how much we have to offer. Of course our taverns are great and it’s fun to go inside and grab something to eat or a drink,” said Gilles. “But there’s a lot of retail as well and it’s a fun way to showcase it all.”
Main Street also debuted the Explorers Club, a promotion for children that rewards them for visiting businesses and discovering what each has to offer.
Street performers — combined with the efforts of the Amherst Public Library, the Amherst Rotary (which showed Disney’s “The Swiss Family Robinson” at Rotary Park after dusk), and the launch of a new farmer’s market at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ — generated a lot of foot traffic.
More Walkin’ on Wednesdays events will be held from 6-8 p.m. on July 8, Aug. 12, and Sept. 9.
It’s not too late to sign up as a performer, Gilles said. For information, call the Main Street Amherst office at 440-984-6709.
“This is a way to give back to the community, to entertain family and friends, and show how talented you are. We have a lot of talented people,” she said.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.