Plaza concerts a big draw on weekends

Robin “Barefoot” Barrett and Michelle “Mush” Morgan of the Coyote Kings with Mush perform at a free blues concert Saturday at Land Title Plaza in downtown Walla Walla. The concert is one of many this summer at the Plaza from 4-7 p.m. Today, Bill Brown and the Kingbees will perform.

Robin “Barefoot” Barrett and Michelle “Mush” Morgan of the Coyote Kings with Mush perform at a free blues concert Saturday at Land Title Plaza in downtown Walla Walla. The concert is one of many this summer at the Plaza from 4-7 p.m. Today, Bill Brown and the Kingbees will perform. Photo by Alfred Diaz.

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WALLA WALLA — Free live music, outside and downtown at Land Title Plaza, First Avenue and Main Street, is turning out to be a regular show on the weekends.

Elio Agostini of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, which sponsors the downtown concert series, said the concerts provide free entertainment, drawing people downtown and getting merchants to stay open on Sundays.

“When I first came here six years ago, it was about 20 merchants open on Sunday,” he said.

The current count is around 45, he added.

Live music downtown isn’t a new concept.

Agostini said even before he came here, downtown concerts were common on city streets.

But they weren’t always as regular as the three-months of concerts the foundation holds every Saturday and Sunday from mid-June through August.

Agostini said he has seen as many as 100 people attend the shows.

On Saturday at about 5 p.m., Robin Barrett and the Coyote Kings had a crowd of about 40 with more still arriving.

Bill Brown and the Kingbees perform today starting at 4 p.m., weather permitting.

Other changes to the downtown concerts over the years have included upping the ante for how much musicians are paid.

“When I came here and I saw how much they were paying the musicians, I said no way. So we started raising the money,” Agostini said.

Back they, the musicians were getting $50 a performance. The foundation currently pays an average of 300-$400 a performance.

The higher pay, however, eventually proved to be too much. So in 2011 the foundation dropped the summer concert series for lack of funds.

Agostini said next year Banner Bank contacted them with and offer to become the official sponsor and started up again in 2012.

The foundation has also tried Thursday nights and weekends at 1 p.m.

“The heat was excessive,” Agostini said.

So the concert times were moved to 4-7 p.m.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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