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A Summer of Songs Under Stars

By VIRGIL DICKSON, STAFF WRITER | 06/26/08 02:01 AM

LITTLE FALLS -- Tonight at Memorial Park, North Jersey rock-and-roll band The Kootz will launch the township's inaugural summer concert series.

In addition to providing entertainment, the Little Falls Alliance for a Better Community hopes the four free shows planned this summer will invigorate local businesses.

"This helps the businesses in the town," Janice Alvarez, event coordinator, said Wednesday. "These concerts will hopefully bring people out, not just from Little Falls, but from a lot of the neighboring communities."

Alvarez said the idea for the outdoor concerts came last year while the Alliance was planning a singing competition. Proceeds from "Idol Search" -- which attracted over 300 people paying $15 each to attend -- went toward organizing and producing summer concerts. Alliance President Renea Hoyt-Shapiro said the December event raised close to $5,000.

This summer's concert series aims to appeal to a variety of audiences; the other shows will feature a soul group, a Frank Sinatra impersonator and a young modern rock band. Alvarez said the acts agreed to perform at a reduced fee to help the series get off the ground.

Musician Glenn Taylor of the Caldwell-based Kootz said it was an honor for the band to be asked to perform.

"I feel great they're putting their faith in us," Taylor said Wednesday in a telephone interview. "We have a lot of fans in the area, so there is a homecoming aspect to it."

The Township Council supported the Alliance's event plans, but wanted $2,400 to provide security from police officers. Hoyt-Shapiro said she felt the fee was too steep for a non-profit organization holding free concerts.

Hoyt-Shapiro looked to Republican mayoral candidate and Alliance member Mike DeFrancisci for help. DeFrancisci, a former police officer in New York State, was able to bring the township's security fee closer to $2,000. Township Clerk William Wilk agreed to eliminate administrative and vehicle costs.

Last week, DeFrancisci appealed to Mayor Eugene Kulick and the council to help by assigning fewer officers to the concerts and sharing the financial burden.
"We appealed to the town to split the cost," DeFrancisci said. "For reasons unknown, they didn't see fit to split it."

Kulick said he was honoring prior precedents for live events established with the Police Department. "I stuck to my guns," Kulick said. "This is the way it's been done."

Despite the issues with the township, Hoyt-Shapiro said she hopes residents will have a great time at tonight's inaugural concert.

"You're going to see great talent," Hoyt-Shapiro said. "It's a wonderful night to sit and listen to music under the stars."