“Music, sweet music, there’ll be music everywhere…”

The Park McCullough House during an event with numerous people sitting on the lawn.

April 28, 2022

When did Bennington get so musical? The truth is, the Town has always had a robust musical culture, from local bands and troubadours to a community symphony orchestra.

But something is different about this summer, thanks largely to efforts by impresarios at three local organizations – and the generosity of local sponsors.

Jenny Dewar, Executive Director of the Better Bennington Corporation, a downtown booster group, is the producer of the Thursday Night Live concert series to be held outdoors all summer long at Merchant’s Park, a stone’s throw north of the center of town.

By day kids frolic on the Splash Pad at the park, but on Thursday evenings musical groups from near and far will be performing from the Thompson Family Stage. The performances, which begin on June 2 with bassist and vocalist Mowgli Giannitti and friends, are free and open to the public.

A graphic illustration for Thursday Night Live musical events in Bennington, Vermont.
Graphic by Better Bennington Corporation

And if you insist on dancing in the streets, there’ll be plenty of music at MayFest on May 28, with no-car zones to step out in, plus arts, crafts, food, and drink. Three brew-pubs are within a short distance of one another in the heart of downtown. Dance, don’t crawl.

Two years ago, in response to Covid, the Bennington Museum began Concerts in the Courtyard, a free end-of-the-week concert series in its forecourt, which has stonework on three sides and a view over Bennington to the Green Mountains on the fourth.

Pandemic or no pandemic, Director of Advancement Alix Jones has booked an eclectic series of acts, and the bands will be playing on, on Friday nights all summer long.

There’ll be food and drink available on site, as well as free children’s activities during the performances at nearby picnic tables, where kids can create art based on art and objects featured in the Museum.

The Throwbacks band members.
The Throwbacks will be playing on June 24th

The music is the main event, with groups such as Luminous Crush, the Throwbacks, and the John Spignesi band bringing their talents to a venue with a view. The full program, running from June 2-September 22 can be found on the Bennington Museum events page.

The popular, classically oriented Music at the Museum series also continues this summer, beginning with a Sunday afternoon performance by pianist Marc Peloquin on May 29. He’ll be playing pieces by Schubert as well as works by more recent composers. Performances take place indoors and are free and open to the public, no reservations are required.

But what about Tuesdays? Tuesday Nights on the Lawn at the Park McCullough Historic Governor’s Mansion in North Bennington has Tuesdays covered.

Music on the veranda at Park McCullough House mansion.
Tuesday Nights on the Lawn

Bands such as Flashpoint, Ransom Notes, and the Hale Mountain Pickers will play from the mansion’s elegant veranda while you sit on the lawn (at no charge) and sample the fare from local food trucks.

The music runs from 5 to 8. Then down comes the Mansion’s 20-foot film screen and suddenly it’s old movie night, also free of charge. Mansion Executive Director Chris Oldham arranges it all.

Bennington’s new coffee bar (The Coffee Bar, to be precise) presents evening performances under the aegis of Billsville, known for its popular, top-talent house concerts.

The Coffee Bar boasts a small stage and, on performance nights, a license to serve a variety of Vermont libations, including spirits from Bennington’s Village Garage Distillery. See for yourself on May 21, when the innovative string band duo of Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves infuses old tunes with new life in one of downtown’s newest spaces.

On May 22nd, don’t miss the free 4 p.m. performance by the North Bennington-based Sage City Symphony at Greenwall Auditorium at Bennington College.  Michael Gallagher’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra is on the bill, with the composer on piano, followed by Brahms’ 3rd Symphony. There’s also a fun silent auction of items contributed by local sponsors.

And as for Saturday mornings, there’s always live music at the weekly Bennington Farmer’s Market half a mile north of the town center. Music everywhere…

Pownal resident Phil Holland writes a monthly post for Vermont Begins Here.