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Summer Concert Series Closes

Crowd at Maddy Walsh performance Sep. 15. Photo by Desiree Holz/Ithaca Week

ITHACA, N.Y.– As the sun sets on the Bernie Milton Pavilion in the Ithaca Commons, a crowd grows quickly. Stage lights blaze and a full eight-piece band performs for its hometown fan base. The crowd cheers, fans sing along, and hover around the merchandise table. 

This was the scene Sept. 15 when The Downtown Ithaca Alliance (DIA) welcomed Ithaca residents to its final concert of the CFCU Summer Concert Series.

 Ithaca native, Maddy Walsh and her solo band took the stage from 6 to 8 p.m. closing out the concert series’ most extensive line-up to date.

A series with a goal

The weekly, always-free series has been an Ithaca summer staple for more than 20 years. Special Events Director at DIA, Scott Rougeau said the CFCU Summer Concert Series is important to the downtown community and discussed how it increases foot traffic in the area. 

“We like to think these events remind people to come down and check out the shops and restaurants and showcase everything that the downtown has to offer, not just during festivals but that there are businesses down here 365-days a year,” said Rougeau. 

Music that matters

Walsh performs annually at the event. Her group, The Blind Spots, has performed at the series for the past decade. This year’s performance is extra-special, said Walsh, because it is her first time on the Bernie Milton Pavilion stage with her solo band. 

Walsh’s concert drew more than two hundred outside the CFCU Community Credit Union on East State Street, many of them longtime fans. With a simple look around, you could spot attendees wearing Maddy Walsh and The Blind Spots t-shirts, jumping up and down and dancing. 

Walsh is equally inspired playing this show.

“We were having so much fun,” Walsh said. “Playing these shows, especially for the hometown audience, is the most soul fueling show you can play. We tour around a lot and play for a lot of new audiences so to play for our biggest concentration of hometown fans– that’s the good, hard stuff.” 

Ithaca local, Addy Whitener, is one of those longtime fans.

“I’ve been coming to these concerts the entire time I’ve been living here and it’s been the highlight of my summer every year. I especially love The Blind Spots and Maddy Walsh, she’s my favorite,” said Whitener. 

Addy Whitener talking with reporter Desiree Holz. Photo by Desiree Holz/ Ithaca Week

Rougeau said audience loyalty demands Walsh and her band to return every year.

“We always love to bring back returning acts that have had success down here. Give the people what they want, right?” said Rougeau. 

The future

After 15 weeks of music, the end of this year’s series is more than just another year of entertainment. It’s the end of a season, with hopes for the future.

Backstage view of Maddy Walsh and her solo band. Photo by Desiree Holz/ Ithaca Week

Rougeau said he is looking for new and fresh vendors for the coming year mentioning work with New Roots Charter School. The DIA works closely with New Roots and said they would like to see a monthly youth entrepreneurship market in collaboration with the charter school at next year’s series. 

Rougeau and his team have already started on next year’s performance line-up and asked those with tips or who are interested to contact the Downtown Ithaca Alliance.

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