With the COVID-19 pandemic still looming, Next Level Park Street Music Fest organizer Clyde Gaines wasn’t sure he would be hosting one of Madison’s favorite music festivals this summer – the annual Next Level Park Street Music Fest – that was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“For a minute as vaccination activity picked up, we didn’t know where this was going in terms of hosting events. We had to delay implementation. But when we saw that they were pushing hard to have something open by July 4th, we thought this would be a great opportunity for us to make that happen in 2021, ”Gaines told Madison365. “A big thank you to our sponsors who made this possible.”

First launched in 2017, Park Street Music Fest is a free, one-day, outdoor live music event designed to bring people from a cross section of music genres together with local and regional artists on Saturday, August 7th. 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. on the grounds of Labor Temple, 1602 S. Park St.

“We are excited about the music groups that we have. We believe that people will really like the quality of the music, ”says Gaines. “At an event that involves music, the music has to be audible and of high quality. We hope that the Next Level Showcase Park Street Music Fest has achieved this and want to continue this trend. “

“We couldn’t hold the event last year because of COVID, like many other events that couldn’t take place. This will be our fourth, ”he continues. “We have had local groups and regional groups perform and some emerging artists and some established local artists. We try to give it a mix of different sounds and styles or artists. We think it’s a great mix this year. “

PeBoGa (People Building Opportunity through Grace and Action), a Madison-based nonprofit with a seven-member board of directors, is promoting Park Street Music Festival which prides itself on being one of the most diverse summer music festivals in Madison.

“We really have a mixed audience … a diverse audience in terms of age, gender, race, etc. The music is obviously the focus as we try to have great music that people can enjoy and feel involved,” says Gaines .

Wayne Strong plays bongos at a previous Next Level Park Street Music Fest

“For Next Level Showcase, we definitely want a diverse group of people to show up,” he adds. “We want the music to represent this diversity. We want people to feel they belong. “

Many of Madison’s summer festivals – Waterfont Fest, La Fete de Marquette, Orton Fest, Atwood Fest, etc. – traditionally take place in the east of the city.

“The south side had no music event at all. There were a few things that had to do with music, but they weren’t about music, ”says Gaines. “Music was always a minor matter, whatever the event was. This event – the Next Level Park Street Music Fest – is geared towards music. “

In addition to the great music, the Park Street Music Fest has added other components including retail vendors, food trucks, information booths, and a vaccination clinic.

“There are still a number of people, especially in our colored communities, who haven’t been vaccinated. So we wanted to give those who weren’t vaccinated one more opportunity to maybe get vaccinated while enjoying music with family and friends, ”says Gaines.

Musical acts that will be performing at this year’s Park Street Music Fest include Kinfolk, Orquesta Sal Soul, Collage and Company, Crown Vic and Alexandrea Cordell.

DJ Ace – YWCA Madison CEO Vanessa McDowell – will perform between acts.

“Having it in Labor Temple is a great location. You’re right in the open air and people can drive by on Park Street, which is a busy street in South Madison. There is plenty of parking space, ”says Gaines. “It’s a good opportunity for people to come over, hang out for a few hours, and soak up the atmosphere.

“And it’s free!” He adds.

As every year, Gaines encourages people to bring a garden chair to make sure they have a seat.

“It’s a great opportunity to sit around and talk, and Park Street Music Fest has a lot going for not just South Madison but Madison in general,” says Gaines. “I think we need events like this that bring different people together and help us all understand that we are all together in this game … we have to pretend we’re all on the same team.”