More Summer Music: Altoona to launch new summer concert series

Emilee Wentland

TUNES UNDER THE SUN. Local blues legends Howard Luedtke & Blue Max will play Altoona’s “Rock’n on the River” concert series this summer in the new River Prairie amphitheater.
A pavilion in Altoona's River Prairie park. The new “Rock’n on the River” concert series this summer will take place in the park's amphitheater.

The Chippewa Valley is now only two summer concert series away from having a different outdoor concert to attend every night of the work week. Beginning in June, Altoona’s Rock’n on the River concert series will join Owen Park’s Tuesday Night Blues and Phoenix Park’s Sounds Like Summer.

“Why not make this one different too? ... We don’t need the same thing in a different park, so it’s nice to have something different.” – Debra Goldbach, Altoona Parks & Recreation

On Wednesday nights, members of the community can venture down to River Prairie’s new amphitheater to enjoy some rock music, with different groups performing each week. Brendan Pratt, the mayor of Altoona, had the initial idea to start a summer concert series in River Prairie.

“I like old time rock ’n’ roll,” Pratt said. “You don’t hear that a lot.”

A major contributor to the event – Recreation Manager Debra Goldbach, of the Altoona Parks and Recreation Department  – agreed with him.

“With the blues going on on Tuesday and then Thursday nights in Phoenix Park, it’s two different genres of music, so why not make this one different, too?” Goldbach said. “We don’t need the same thing in another park, so it’s nice to have something different.”

Since Rock’n on the River will offer a different genre of music, Pratt said he thinks the concerts will attract different crowds than Sounds Like Summer and Tuesday Night Blues do. Just like the other concert series, there will be food trucks and art vendors on site. The park itself also has a stream, a trail, and a splash pad so kids can have a good time while their parents relax with some music, Pratt said.

The concert series kicks off June 13 with The Thundermen, who call themselves “The Midwest’s original rock ’n’ roll band.” Additional performers include 40 Fingers, a ’60s and ’70s dance music cover band; the Jim Pullman Band, a local indie rock group; and Howard Luedtke & Blue Max, a blues rock band.

The concerts will be free and open to the public. Food and art will be available for purchase, and the Parks and Recreation Department will accept donations. Any donations from the event will go toward the department’s scholarship program and other programming.

River Prairie is a “community within a community,” Pratt said, and Rock’n on the River will be one of multiple things going on in the area. He hopes these events and others bring the community to the park.

Each Wednesday will feature a new headlining act, promising a new experience and a good time, but Pratt joked about one thing being consistent: “Every Wednesday will be sunny and warm.”

Rock’n on the River is located at River Prairie Park in Altoona. Each concert starts at 6:30pm on Wednesday nights beginning June 13, continuing throughout the summer.

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