0521 blues in the park3.jpg (copy)

Artist LJ Echols, right, warms up with his band for the 2019 installment of Blues in the Park.

Strand Park will play host to one of the bigger Southern Soul concerts of the year.

Blues in the Park organizer Tyrone Oliver said the May 15 concert is attracting attention.

“There is one concert the weekend before in Dothan that might be bigger,” Oliver said. “I want people to find out about Alexander City and what it has to offer. We are getting calls from all over seeking information about rooms and places to eat. We think it is going to be great for Alexander City. This is going to be the biggest Blues in the Park we have ever had.”

Last year’s Blues in the Park was delayed until July for the COVID-19 pandemic. Oliver said this year’s event will still have suggested COVID-19 protocols.

“We want people to social distance,” Oliver said. “The governor has lifted the mask mandate but we are asking people to wear one.”

Coolers and tents are welcome at the event but no grills. Music starts at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 15 with acts taking the stage at 4 p.m. The concert is free, but it doesn’t mean the level of entertainment is any less.

“If you were to pay for a concert like this, a ticket would be around $100,” Oliver said. “Thanks to the generosity of Alexander City we are able to do this.”

Oliver, who has been helping with similar concerts across the Southeast for four decades, describes Southern Soul as “danceable, upbeat blues” music. This year’s acts include some who are currently being recognized in the Southern Soul circles including Jeter Jones, Nicky Caldwell, Stan Butler, West Love, Tasha Mac, Jali, Baddnewz and Cadillac Man.

Blues in the Park is Oliver’s brainchild but he has had help to pull it off in Alexander City.

“I was M.C. for a concert in Wilcox County,” Oliver said. “I thought if they can pull it off in the poorest county in Alabama we can do it Alexander City.”

Sean Bland, Arlene Wyckoff, Cassandra Freeman and Oliver’s wife Clara have helped pull off the event.

The first year was at the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex and Blues in the Park moved to Strand Park the next year where it has remained. Now Oliver is hoping others will help continue supporting the annual concert and not just financially.

“We are a little over budget this year,” Oliver said. “We are still looking for vendors, sponsors and donations. But we have had some really solid people helping put this together. We are looking for some younger people to come help with the organization of the annual concert so it can keep going on.”

Oliver said those wishing to be a vendor or sponsor of the Fifth Annual Blues in the Park can contact him at 256-496-1958.

Oliver said the Alexander City Police Department will once again help at the concert that will be fun for all.

“ACPD is basically going to create a precinct there for us,” Oliver said. “They have always been great to us. It will be the biggest Blues in the Park ever. It will be great entertainment and we hope everyone will have a great time.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.