Tonawanda News — An effort to draw traffic to downtown North Tonawanda is entering its second year, with a cover band concert series called Weekends on Webster kicking off on Saturday.
Greg Doel, owner of Crazy Jakes, is leading the charge along with Larry Denef, who also helps organize Canal Fest of the Tonawandas. The two began the concert series last year in part to make up for the loss of the Molson Canal Concert series, but also to continue what they see as unprecedented growth in the city over the last several years.
“We’re just trying to continue to have distinct live music downtown,” Doel said, “with the hope that we can continue to get exposure and just to keep things going downtown. There’s a lot of activity in Western New York and we’re trying to get everybody here, coming to all these local businesses and enjoying our waterfront and everything else.”
Those hopes will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday, when Webster Street is closed to vehicle traffic between Sweeney Street and Tremont Avenue as well as the Renaissance Bridge. A local cover band will start the affair, with a Kid Rock tribute band called Cowboy set to take the stage at 8 p.m.
Doel said the series last summer pulled in between 1,000 and 2,500 concert-goers, though they hope to exceed that number this year.
A beer tent will be situated in the veranda area on Crazy Jakes property, a change over last year. Food will also not be served out on the streets, leaving the chance for business up and down Webster an opportunity to make gains on the expected crowds.
“You’ll be able to just be served over the railing,” Doel said, referring to the establishment he owns. “We were just trying to tighten things up and make it a little more economically friendly. The beer tent was behind the stage lat year.”
In addition to Saturday’s scheduled event, three other shows will be held on on July 13, July 27 and Aug. 3, with those acts covering big band names like Aerosmith, Journey and Bon Jovi. While the selection will not be everybody’s cup of tea, the point is to continue to find ways to keep downtown hopping, according to Doel.
Weekends on Webster is free of charge, but open only to those 21 years of age and older.