Concerts in the Park

The city of Ellensburg Concerts in the Park opened Thursday evening at Alder Park with the bluegrass sounds of the Thomas Creek Band.

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The waterwheel on the corner of Alder and Greenfield slowly turned, giving the neighborhood a Thorp Mill-esque feel to it as the people walked up the street toward the sounds of the Thomas Creek Band— the opening show of the Concert in the Park series Thursday night at Alder Street Park.

Inside the park itself, the squalls and howls of children sounded off as they rolled down the grassy bank of a nearby hill, getting up to a comical stagger after a 30-40-foot tumble.

It was one of those days where the wind was just a puff, enough to keep things cool as an estimated 200 people sat back in lawn chairs and enjoyed the sounds of bluegrass coming from the pavilion. It was a night of Americana, the only thing missing was John Clymer sitting at an easel, capturing it for the Saturday Evening Post.

“They started at 5:30 (an hour early),” one patron said, sipping on a cool drink. “They got done with sound check early and just started playing.”

That’s the way Thomas Creek Band leader Dale Thomas operates. The guitar and mandolin player likes to tap into the spirit of traditional bluegrass music with his set list and fellow guitarist/mandolinist Tom Pritchard and Katie Eims on dobro jump right in. They probably could have played all night, but the City of Ellensburg Concerts in the Park are designed to shut down before dark.

“We stay with traditional bluegrass format from the 60s and 70s. I’d like to add a banjo and fiddle player, but they’re a little hard to come by,” Thomas said. “Tonight was all about Americana with the families and the children. It was a lot of fun.”

The city has been holding the free concert series going on 20 years, giving local musicians a place to play and concert-goers the opportunity to bring along a bite to eat and a chance to hear a weekly variety of sounds Thursday nights throughout August.

The Thomas Creek Band is a trio from Yakima that centers its sound around traditional bluegrass and Americana music. The band’s name comes from an actual place in southwest Arkansas that has family ties to the band leader.

Concerts run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The remainder of the concert series schedule includes:

n Aug. 8 — British Racing Green

n Aug. 15 — Wolfpack

n Aug. 22 — These Guitars Say Sorry


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