Setting the stage for Tigard's summer concert series
For over 30 years, Becky Johnson has operated Sterling Talent, a Tigard-based talent agency that arranges the entertainment for summer concert series in Sherwood, Tualatin, West Linn, Wilsonville, Lake Oswego and other Oregon cities.
But there was one thing missing for Johnson, who is also a longtime Tigard resident: her hometown didn't have a summer concert series of its own.
"The icing on the cake is in July and August, when we have a chance to get these great bands out in the parks," Johnson said about her business. "So it's hard not to notice (an absence in Tigard), because I do all the booking…. Literally every community that surrounds Tigard has its own concert series. Even Newberg, which obviously is much smaller than Tigard."
But that's about to change, because on Tuesday, Aug. 15, Tigard will host its own free concert on the Cook Park soccer field.
Johnson worked with the Tigard Parks and Recreation department to organize the concert. She credits Anthony Markey, the recreation coordinator who joined the department in late 2015, with helping to get the concert off the ground.
"These concert series, they're a lot of moving parts," she said. "So it does take some dedication and time to get it happening."
If all goes according to plan, the single concert planned for this summer will turn into a weekly series next summer. Johnson said she wanted to go all-out for the launch, so she booked Radical Revolution, a Portland-based 1980s cover band that she called "one of the top bands this area has ever seen."
Jason Fellman, the front man for Radical Revolution, grew up in Beaverton and went to Beaverton High School. He said that '80s music hits the "sweet spot" for family-friendly concerts.
"Our kids listen to the same music as we do," he said. "They hear it in the car and everything. So one of the things that's fun about these summer concerts is, yeah, the parents know the music, but the kids do, too. It's like, wow, I can't believe we have 10-year-olds singing along to Joan Jett up here."
Along with "I Love Rock 'n Roll" by Jett, some of the band's favorite tracks to perform include "Dance with Somebody" by Whitney Houston, "Mickey" by Toni Basil, "Modern Love" by David Bowie and anything by Bon Jovi.
Though Fellman has a passion for playing 80s covers — especially the wide range of styles and moods that the decade has to offer — his band played mostly original music when it first started out. They reserved the 80s hits for the last hour of their shows, so that people would stick around longer.
"If you want to keep people in clubs late, you have to keep people interested," Fellman said. "And it was so fun, we decided, we should just start an 80s cover band."
Fellman encourages folks coming to the concert to send their song requests to Radical Revolution's Facebook page before the show. He said he can't make any promises, but that "we're pretty hard to stump."
The Tuesday concert will be free to attend, and families can bring their own picnics or enjoy sliders and full plates from Slick's Big Time Barbecue, a Wilsonville-based restaurant that does event catering. The show runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Johnson said attendance is key to determining whether or not Tigard's summer concert series will get off the ground.
"If people really support this concert and turn out for it, I think there's a really good chance we'll have something to show sponsors next year and get a series together," she said. "It's been a long time coming for Tigard."