Thinking Summer? Then think Summerfest

By Jim Bucher

By now, hopefully, you know one of our world-class venues here in the Miami Valley is celebrating its 25th anniversary. I’m talking, of course, about Fraze Pavilion.

I can remember working at Channel 2 back in the day, covering the groundbreaking on a patch of land in Kettering that wasn’t being used.

The thinking at the time was, how is this thing gonna work? Well, it has, and now the silver anniversary is upon us.

The park-like setting is absolutely perfect for an outdoor concert enjoyed by countless fans, and performers on stage love the intimacy.

And like a fine wine, it just gets better with age. Wish I could say the same thing about me. I’m sure either you, family members or friends have some special memories (or three) from an event at Fraze.

Now we’re at the point, or close to at least, of your grown kids taking out their friends to Fraze for a great night of music under the stars.

Fraze General Manager Karen Durham has been working all winter long on another dynamite lineup of top tier groups, artists, festivals and events, something for everyone.

Like many traditions at Fraze, this one had a humble beginning. And like the invention of the pop top, this was born of necessity. (Fraze’s namesake Ermal Fraze invented the pull-top can.) To fill an evening with wonderful music, party atmosphere and lots of fun.

I’m talking about Mix 107.7’s Summerfest.

Jeff Stevens, co-host of the Mix Morning Show, has been there from day one. Actually, he was one of the creators.

“It originated with me and the Mix team wanting to do a big feel-good, retro concert at the Fraze,” Jeff says.

And the rest they say is … well, you know.

Now, in its 18th year, Summerfest is not just a concert, it’s an event!

“I think people like to be nostalgic,” Jeff says. “It’s a night out and a chance to forget life for a couple hours and sing your lungs out and have fun at a great place.”

The concert, or rather “event,” has evolved over almost two decades.

“A few years ago, we decided that every show didn’t HAVE to be retro … so, that year we had Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw. Two years later, we had Sheryl Crow. This year, we are back to a ’80s package. Really depends on what’s out there at the time, but now, people know they are just going to a great event no matter what the era,” the morning DJ says.

And those memories over the past 17 concerts—oops, EVENTS?

“Certainly, the first one is a great memory … from a little idea in a conference room to a fully sold out show with Rick Springfield and Air Supply,” Jeff says. “Another great memory was scoring Journey in 2004. It sold out right away, and they added a second night. And maybe the biggest one was 2008. For our 10-year anniversary, we had 10 bands!  It started at noon, and every single band showed up, was on time and played a great set! To this day, Karen and I can’t believe we pulled that one off.”

And like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz,” there’s really “no place like home.”

“Every artist says ‘We love this place’ when they play Fraze,” Jeff says. “Without exception. They all say it and usually repeat it on stage, too. It’s been a joy to work with Karen and her staff all these years. I can finally get around there without a backstage pass, too,” he laughs.

Karen, if you’re reading this, better alert security, but as we say in the “news biz,” I’m burying the lead. Look who Summerfest brings this year …

“We’re pleased to announce coming back to Fraze is none other than Rick Springfield,” Jeff says with excitement in his voice. “Also, Night Ranger and The Romantics, Saturday, July 2, 7:30 p.m.”

I’ve known Jeff for many, many, MANY years. OK, Buch, one “many” is enough, but can I tell you, he gets a bigger kick out of this than the fans.

“It’s been awesome to put together quality shows,” Jeff says. “And the crazy thing is I have been able to interact closely with all these acts that I grew up listening to over the years.”

Yes, but not too close. Right, Karen?

Cheers, my friends, and who knows the words to “Jessie’s Girl”?

Buch

For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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