No More Saturday Night Summer Music at Merced Mall

PHOTO BY STEVE NEWVINE

PHOTO BY STEVE NEWVINE

No more summer concerts

I found out this week that one of my summertime pleasures, the Saturday night music concert series at Merced Mall, has been discontinued.

I asked the person at the information desk inside the Mall whether the series would be held this summer and she told me that the concerts are not returning. A call into the Mall offices got me a very nice person who confirmed the news, and directed me back to the information desk to fill out a comment card.

I also noticed that you can also comment on anything related to the Mall at their website www.MercedMall.com

My feelings about this decision by the Mall do not consist of anger or frustration. I’m sure this was purely a business decision. I work in the business sector every day. I understand why choices such as this one are made.

Free to the public

As the concerts were free to the public, it’s reasonable to guess the Mall’s budget for this kind of summertime activity was strained. Artists deserve to be paid. Hosting a series of two-hour concerts at the Mall likely entails increased expenses for such things as set-up, security, and post-event janitorial work. It’s true that the concerts brought in a lot of people who probably would not go to the Mall on a Saturday night in the summer. Some of these new visitors spent money in the stores and at the food court. Others did not.

I suspect that after four years, the cost of producing the series did not pencil out. There were more people in the Mall on those Saturday nights, but the revenue from increased traffic likely did not justify the expense. Still, I am saddened that this little piece of life in Merced has come to an end.

Good memories

There are good memories from those many concerts we attended over the years. My favorite concert was from a bluegrass band that called itself The Grass Kickers. In recent years, some members from that group formed a new band that also delighted the crowd. We also enjoyed the light jazz from John Albano and his quartet. I introduced John’s music to my in-laws during one of their visits to the valley.

Cool and comfortable

The concerts provided a respite from the intense valley heat. The variety of music offered appealed to just about everyone. If a particular week’s program didn’t interest you, you could pass on it and return later in the summer. It was nice to see live music performed in a comfortable (assuming you either got there early enough for a seat or brought in your own folding chair) setting. The mood was always light, the audiences were appreciative, and the artists were grateful. We often saw people we knew from church or other organizations attending the concerts. It was a fun and safe place to meet, greet, and connect with acquaintances. Plus, it got us away from the television set on a Saturday night. Saturday nights won’t seem the same this summer, at least for now. Soon we and the other people who attended the concerts will find something else to do to fill the void left by the end of the Merced Mall Summer Music Series. It was fun while it lasted.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.