Summer Days, a series of lectures and performances sponsored by Wesleyan's Center for the Arts, begins its 4-Tuesday run this week (June 30.) Scheduled to speak at 12:10 p.m. in the CFA Cinema (the older one, not the Goldsmith Family Cinema) is Marilyn Nelson. Nelson, who was the CT State Poet Laureate from 2001-06, is the author or translator of twelve books and three chapbooks. Her latest, "The Freedom Business", is a poetic look at the life of Venture Smith, an 18th Century slave who purchased his own freedom (and that of his family) - in fact, her poetry sits on the opposite page from selections from Smith's memoirs. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, go to www.blueflowerarts.com/marilyn-nelson.
It's a busy week for the Middletown Symphonic Band. The ensemble, led by Marco Gaylord, plays the first of Middletown's Summer Sounds Series this Tuesday at 7 p.m. on the South Green. The following day (July 1), ,the MSB inaugurates Cromwell's Summer Sounds Series, the concert taking place at 7 p.m. in Pierson Park, West Street. The Band comes back to Middletown the very next day to perform at 8:30 p.m. on the lawn of the City Hall, right before the Fireworks Display.
The Music at the Mansion Series, held on the back lawn of the Wadsworth Mansion/ Long Hill Estate, begins its 4-week run this Wednesday. Perennial favorite Eight to the Bar plays its sweet sounds of swing at 6:30 p.m. The grounds open at 5:30 for those who wish to bring a picnic dinner. For more information, call 347-1064 or go to www.wadsworthmansion.com.
Speaking of the Fireworks Display, the Middletown Common Council put money back into the city's budget and the entertainment returned to the event. Musical guests include Kwaku Kwaakye Obeng & Band (5 p.m. at Riverview Plaza), the Middletown High Jazz Band at 6:30 at City Hall followed by the r'n'b/soul sounds of Mass-Conn-Fusion (7:30 p.m.at City Hall) and the afore-mentioned Middletown Symphonic Band. Food vendors and restaurants will be open and, who knows, maybe the weather will finally cooperate. In case of rain, the event will take place on July 9.
The opening concert of Wesleyan's CFA Summer Nights series is, sadly, scheduled for the same time as the events down by City Hall. Nevertheless, the free concert, to be held at 7 p.m. in the CFA Courtyard (off High Street) looks to be a winner. Nation Beat, a sextet that melds Brazilian rhythms with American "roots" music, will absolutely get you off the blanket and dancing around. In case of rain, the concert moves indoors to Crowell Concert Hall. To find out more about the band, go to www.nationbeat.com/.