SHIRLEY -- When the Shirley Charitable Foundation launched its free summer concert series several years ago, the group had high hopes and great expectations for an annual event that has now come into its own.
Members at the time touted a dual purpose, to gain ground for a relatively new organization, spread the word about their charitable mission and foster community spirit.
Since then, the SCF has successfully met those goals and then some, becoming a household word and partnering with other nonprofits in town on a variety of projects.
The summer concerts are the jewel in the crown.
Formerly held on the municipal green off Front Street, where there's open space but no shade, turnout increased when the locale was moved to the historic town common on Parker Road, with its picturesque setting and plenty of shade beneath a spreading canopy of tall trees.
According to SCF member Kevin Johnston, concerts this summer have been the best ever in terms of turnout, with over 200 people at the penultimate event. And with a variety of talented entertainers in the lineup, concert-goers rave about the music.
Friday night, Aug. 24, will be the final concert of the season and the series promises to go out with a big bang, or, more accurately, with a big band: Charles Neville and the Skeletones Big Band.
According to the group's promotional literature, the band has been making music together since 2002.
Saxophonist and band leader Charles Neville had already gained fame performing with his talented family, the Neville Brothers Band, in the late 1970s. Some certain-agers might recall his brother Aaron's partnership with pop diva Linda Rondstadt in the 1980s.
But Charles Neville had an "active musical career" of his own even before that. In 1953, when he was 16, Charles was already "on the road" with the legendary B.B. King, followed by gigs with R&B greats such as Little Richard and Larry Williams.
The Neville Brothers Band was once the opening act for the Rolling Stones. For Charles, this big break led to bigger things, including tours with headliners such as Herbie Hancock, Bonnie Raitt, Gregg Allman, Dr. John and the Marsalis family, among others.
The Skeletones Big Band oeuvre focuses on music from Charles's career, separate from that of the Neville Brothers, including blues inspired by the famous folks he once worked for, including King, Little Richard and Herbie Hancock. Their repertoire also includes jazz from Duke Ellington, Oscar Pettiford, Henry Mancini and Quincy Jones.
The band consists of Charles Neville on alto and tenor sax; Ted Wirt, alto, woodwinds and keys; Peter Carne, alto, tenor, clarinet; Jake Weiner, baritone, bass clarinet; Dave Bilodeau and Pete Grimaldi, trumpets and trombonist Joe Reidy.
The concert starts at 6:30, with food and beverage concessions open at 6 p.m.