Concerts on the Riverwalk 2019 kicks off with new organizers
For the Star Journal
For 36 years, music lovers in Rhinelander have had Jan Leschke to thank for bringing them wonderful free live music each summer. She has now formed a committee to continue organizing the Concerts on the Riverwalk that includes Tom Jerow, Steven Schreier, John Bogusz and Sue Schneider. Jan is also helping out during this year of transition.
The concert committee has been busy finding and scheduling entertainment, soliciting donations from area businesses and preparing to host the weekly concerts, which are set for Wednesdays at 7 p.m., starting June 19 with the Rhinelander Area Community Band.
Director Jim Pekol has prepared the usual fun mix of familiar tunes, marches and polkas for the first concert, featuring a new-to-the-band JP Sousa march called Wisconsin Forward Forever. The performance is sponsored by Superior Diesel of Rhinelander.
“We have a good line-up of talent this summer, with a couple new acts and the usual free popcorn and friendly folks,” said committee member Sue Schneider. “We’re happy to be able to utilize this wonderful band shell and park that’s so much a part of downtown Rhinelander.” Rain location for the concerts is the senior center (ADRC) across the parking lot.
Back in 1982, Jan joined Gary Buelow, then high school band director, and community musician Bill Kaul to initiate the summer concerts at various locations downtown. At about the same time, she also helped start Rhinelander Area Community Band which became a staple of the summer concert series.
As the band and the audience grew, the need for a structure became apparent, and Jan spearheaded the band’s fund-raising effort to build a band shell in the mid-1990s. Partnering with Rhinelander Downtown Development Association, Trig Solberg and the City of Rhinelander, a park along the river near the Davenport Street Bridge was created.
Community band member Ron Parkinson designed and donated plans for the band shell, and various area businesses and individuals worked to build the structure. A crew from the Wisconsin Conservation Corps, with help from local Master Gardeners, carved out a green space from Trig’s parking lot complete with benches and landscaping.
While Jan will no longer address the crowd from behind the microphone, she will remain a devoted audience member and assist the new committee. She will also continue playing her clarinet in the community band.
“Jan is such a treasure,” said Sue. “It’s an awesome responsibility to take over this job, and I don’t think any one of us alone could do it. All of us together may be up to the task.”
Concerts on the Riverwalk 2019 schedule
Wednesdays, 7 p.m., band shell near Trig’s in Rhinelander
June 19 Rhinelander Area Community Band
June 26 Anthony Lux Band
July 3 Unemployed 11 Jazz Band
July 10 Rhinelander Area Community Band
July 17 Paco Fralick
July 24 Scott Kirby and Friends
July 31 Act III – Dale Smith trio
August 7 Rhinelander Area Community Band