By Michael Regan
Medina Journal-Register — There was a quiet scene Tuesday at Gratwick Riverside Park, where two golfers practiced their chip shots, a yellow kite skirted through the sky and dozens of others enjoyed the return of nice weather along a calm Niagara River.
But that scene will give way to much rowdier images this summer, when thousands of eager music-lovers will descend on the normally tranquil swath of green space for an expanded Cornerstone’s Niagara River Rocks concert series, with the headliners Primus, The Tea Party and Rusted Root headlining Sunday afternoon concerts in June, July and August.
What began as a one-time only affair last summer with the bands Buckcherry and Fuel drawing upwards of 10,000 people and 70 boats to the park, while also serving as a testing ground for future potential after the loss of the Molson Canal Concert Series in 2007, has turned into the fulfillment of a campaign promise, according to Mayor Rob Ortt.
The one-term mayor who is running for re-election this year announced three shows near the river’s edge Tuesday for the 2013 summer lineup, along with concert promoter Kathy Paradowski and local politicians. Ortt said he pledged to push to bring back major bands after the Gateway Harbor series fled to Lockport in a dispute with previous administrations.
“Last year was a trial run,” Ortt said. “It worked.”
As North Tonawanda attempts to reinvent its waterfront, the city and the promoter revealed Tuesday what they hope will become the status quo, adding to the slow but steady progress that has come to the city in recent years and the potential to tap into its underused waterfront.
Ortt said the he believes the series could become a permanent fixture in the Lumber City/ Paradowski, who also promotes the Labatt’s Canal Concert Series in Lockport, said there’s also the chance it could expand.
With strong feedback after last year’s show, she said that decision could depend on the support of local business, which she indicated would benefit from the thousands of people who will come from all over Western New York and who will stay and spend their money after the show at the city’s restaurants, bars and shops.
“We had so much positive feedback from last year,” she said. “But we’re a promotions company and we really rely on business.”
Like last year, the concerts, which will be held on June 9, July 14 and Aug. 25, will be free to the public, though there will be a $5 charge for parking. Food and beverages will be sold inside the venue.
Paradowski said local bands are encouraged to become opening acts, though they would have to produce original music, with the opportunity to display their talents in front of big-name acts and along the waterfront, where the hopes of a city are largely pinned to its future.
<\z12f”sans-serif”>”We expect these shows to bring thousands of concert goers to one of the most beautiful venues along the Niagara River,” Ortt added.
<\z12f”sans-serif”>For more information go to www.niagarariverrocks.com.IF YOU GO • WHAT: Cornerstone's Niagara Rover Rocks concert series • WHERE: Gratwick Riverside Park, River Road, North Tonawanda • DATES: Primus with Beggar's Best, June 9; The Tea Party, July 14; Rusted Root with Hypnotic Clambake, Aug. 25 (all shows begin at 5 p.m.) • COST: The shows are free to attend. A $5 charge for parking will be assessed. Contact reporter Michael Regan at 716-693-1000, ext. 4115.