SUMMERSOUNDS CONCERT SERIES
GREW FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
Celebrating their 20th anniversary, these Friday night weekly concerts
in Greensburg’s St. Clair Park draw large crowds, exceptional performers
BY ALEXIS PAPALIA
Few things are as fundamental to
summer as an outdoor concert.
Getting to enjoy warm weather
and live music under the stars is a treat
everyone should enjoy. That’s why the
SummerSounds concert series offers
something for everyone.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this
year, SummerSounds is ready for its
best series yet this summer, with concerts
every Friday night until Aug. 30, in
St. Clair Park, Greensburg.
SummerSounds had humble beginnings,
but it’s become a staple in the
regional music community during its
“It started with four people over a
drink,” said Gene James, chairman of
the board for SummerSounds.
Four members of the local community
came together and decided that
the recently constructed Robertshaw
Amphitheater in St. Clair Park needed a
“It was just standing empty,” James
They found that purpose in an annual
free concert series that would bring the
community together for good music.
Fortunately, the City of Greensburg was
enthusiastic about the prospect, and
the rest is history.
“That first summer, we had 600 people
attending,” James said. “Last year,
we had 30,000.”
There are consistently 2,000 to 8,000
attendees at each concert, with music
lovers traveling surprising distances to
see the shows.
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“I know we have people coming up
from the Washington, D.C. area, from
Baltimore. … We regularly have people
coming in from Johnstown, from Indiana,
Pa.,” James said.
The success of the SummerSounds
series should not be surprising, considering
its recipe for success. The volunteers
who have organized and executed
the series for the past two decades are
dedicated to putting on high-quality
performances for a variety of musical
“We have people who call themselves
concert aficionados who say we put
on the best live shows around,” James
Even many of the musicians say that
performing at SummerSounds is one of
their best live music experiences.
The acts themselves are the true star
of SummerSounds, and James sees
them as such.
“We’re music aficionados ourselves,”
he said. “Our series has been praised
for how it’s curated.”
They might not have the big bucks to
draw huge acts, but they clearly have a
knack for finding just the right musicians.
The series has a track record of
bringing exceptional talent to the Robertshaw
Amphitheater’s stage, including
up-and-coming artists who have found
“We’ve had two artists who went on
to win Grammys,” James said. One of
those Grammy Award-winning acts
even returned to SummerSounds.
Even with their own exceptional
tastes, the committee in charge of finding
and scheduling acts for the series
takes input from attendees, including
surveys every week. For this special
20th anniversary series, the committee
took the 50 favorite acts from two
whole decades into account.