By Stephen Smoot
Two sure fire ways to warm up a summertime Shinnston crowd include great music and delicious food. For years, Wind Down Wednesdays have brought both to the forefront. This summer promises to be the best yet.
“We are changing things up,” said Brendan Gallagher, part of the team that puts the event together. A vendor marketplace, which has operated as a farmers’ market, will operate right alongside the free music and fun.
Wind Down Wednesdays serves as part of a greater effort to expand arts and cultural events of a variety of types in Shinnston. Organizers bring in acts featuring different genres of popular music that always attract attention.
Part of the continued popularity lies in two main themes. “We always try to keep it varied,” Gallagher explained. He went on to say that “we don’t want to bring the same acts every year.”
For 2024, Andy Benson will serve as host of the event. The local singer-songwriter will both perform and serve as master of ceremonies for Wind Down Wednesdays. The first featured act will be Double Vision, a locally based band that offers 80s and 90s classic rock and country favorites. They will take the stage at the June show.
Members of the Clarksburg-based band “strive to bring the best performances possible while playing songs that people know and love . . . a one-stop shop for all of your Top Hits!”
Next, in July, will be Samuel James, a 23 year olf singer-songwriter from Lewisburg who tours extensively in north central West Virginia. His haunting folk style songs feature lyrics like “my father was driven blind by a woman whose beauty who made most men deaf.”
August brings the country stylings of Shane Masters, an artist bringing “heart-driven writing, bold storytelling, and an emotional delivery” of his own music.
Wind Down Wednesday wraps up the 2024 season in September with Byron “Six Six” Cooper. During the pandemic, Cooper entertained over 100,000 across the globe with Facebook Live concerts, bringing music and cheer into people’s lives during the fear and stress of lockdowns. He brings healthy helpings of energy and fun to his performances of 70s funk and soul classics.
Gallagher noted that Cooper “always draws a really big crowd.”
“We always have great crowds,” Gallagher stated, adding that “the smallest crowd was 100. We usually get between one and two hundred a night.”
Besides adding to arts and culture offerings to entertain residents and attract visitors to boost the local economy, Wind Down Wednesdays has another core goal. “They’ve always been a great way for people to get together” and continue building community.
He also shared that scheduling the event on Wednesday appeals to a different kind of crowd than Friday or Saturday. Most people come directly after work to socialize, relax, and enjoy a family friendly community gathering. Like other city events through the year, they show that Shinnston does a superb job in creating events for the public to enjoy that draw large numbers of people for community interaction and rollicking fun.
“Bring a chair,” Gallagher suggests “and if you haven’t been coming to them, they’re a really great time.”