About a dozen musicians set the soundtrack for the early summer night on June 1.
Over by The Met, guitar music floated on the evening breeze on June 1, but on the southwest edge of St. Armands Circle, saxophone music could be heard in front of Dream Weaver. Elsewhere, piano and guitar music trickled out of various nooks and crannies of the Circle as the summer’s first Songs of the Circle event went on.
The dozen musicians scattered throughout the Circle were spaced far enough that their music didn’t overlap, but as passers-by walked out of earshot of one performance, they walked into another.
“It’s good exposure for musicians,” Russell Jennings said. “And it’s not raining, so it’s going well.”
Jennings played what he called the one song every visitor wants to hear — “Sweet Caroline” — and got some fist-pumping and singing along from visitors as they walked the spoke of the Circle that leads towards Longboat Key.
Most musicians’ evenings went that way, with good-natured head-bobbing as visitors walked past, but some drew a crowd. Steve Arvey and his smorgasbord of cigar-box guitars attracred a crowd of about a dozen and a few husbands waiting for shopping wives. Guitarist JT Teis, who stood outside Rico’s Pizzeria, played for a raucous crowd of friends who claimed benches in front of him. He regularly plays at Maduro Cigar and Bar, so usually he’s on stage.
“I’ve never busked before, but I had some friends come out and that makes all the difference in the world,” Teis said.
Songs of the Circle will continue on every first Tuesday of the month. Marketing agency Next-Mark is organizing this event, as well as a monthly yoga series every second Wednesday and a family day every fourth Sunday.
“The real purpose behind all this is really that St. Armands gets great seasonal visitors, but we were tasked with seeing what we can do off peak days to stimulate and provide the community with free events,” Next-Mark President Joe Grano said. “We’ve been working with (St. Armands) since last year so the next phase of this was, we knew people were going to be getting back out, so we wanted to do things where people felt comfortable getting outside.”
Some of the musicians will return, but Grano said a few will change month to month until the event series ends in September. There were a few musicians that they hadn’t hired who just showed up and played, which Grano said was fun for the event.
“We just needed to bridge this gap with St. Armands in terms of the art community,” Grano said. “This is just kind of a fun way to do it and keep it simple.”