A Levitt Pavilion Dayton official is letting a few secrets out of the bag weeks before its big season reveal party.
Lisa Wagner, the executive director of the outdoor venue at 36 S. Main St. in Dave Hall Plaza, said there will be more shows and surprises to build on the success of last year’s inaugural season.
“We thought it (the 2018 season) exceeded our expectations,” she said. “It was a great experience to see how everyone came together to dance together on the lawn.”
The Levitt offered 34 free concerts last summer by a list of musicians known locally, nationally and internationally. The music variety included jazz, rock, blues, folk, R&B, country, pop, world and children’s music.
More than 26,000 people from at least 67 zip codes attended concerts at the venue last year, Wagner said.
>> RELATED: Who played at Levitt Dayton last year
The lineup for this year’s 50-show season will be revealed on Wednesday, April 17, at a free party at Table 33, 130 W. Second St. in downtown Dayton.
The free shows will start May 30 and be held Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and one Sunday a month.
There will be no shows the week of the Fourth of July, Wagner said.
She didn’t spill all the details to us, but did let us in on a few secrets.
A BIGGER NATIONAL ACT
Following this year’s season, a special ticketed fundraising concert will be held at the pavilion featuring a well-known national act, Wagner said.
“We will do a benefit concert to support the mission to give 50 free concerts,” she said.
The concert will be in addition to the Levitt National Tour, which in 2018 featured Paul Thorn and the Blind Boys of Alabama.
Details for this year’s Levitt National Tour set to stop in Dayton on June 21 are being finalized, Wagner said.
The name of the artist to be featured at the Levitt Dayton benefit show will be announced at the party, she said.
Wagner said the response to Dayton Funk All-Stars Band during their October show was proof that Dayton wants more funk.
“While we will still have every genre, we are excited to bring back more funk,” she said. “We saw the response to blue R&B, funk, world music and jazz.”
The funk music genre put Dayton on the map as the Land of the Funk in the 1970s and '80s, thanks to a stable of groups that included the Ohio Players, Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame, Zapp, Faze-O, Heatwave, Sun, Slave and Lakeside.
SOME THINGS STAY THE SAME
Speaking of funk, Wagner said the Dayton Funk All-Stars Band and several of the most popular local acts from the 2018 season will return again this year.
Levitt plans to step out of the box this year.
Classical, gospel and choral music acts will play this year. Wagner said there will also be something for fans of Celtic music.
“There will be different things to dip our toes into, different things. We just want to explore that,” she said. “ We have a really nice mix of different ethnic and world music.”
A NEW TITLE SPONSOR
Wagner said all twenty companies that sponsored individual Levitt Dayton shows in 2018 are returning and more will be added
SUNDAY MOVIES IN THE PARK
The PNC Family Series will feature music one Sunday each month. The events will also feature a movie in the pavilion, Wagner said.
The movie will either shown on a screen on the stage or on the venue’s video walls.
The Eichelberger Foundation, the sponsor of last year’s jazz season, has signed on to be the title sponsor for the entire summer.
About 20 company sponsored individual shows last year.
Wagner said will return this year and more companies have signed on to be sponsors.
Levitt Dayton will reveal the names of some of the 2019 acts during happy hour-style sneak peeks leading up to the reveal party, Wagner said.
The first wil be held 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 at Third Perk Coffeehouse and Wine Bar, 46 W. Fifth St., Dayton.
A second is planned for Hannah’s, 121 N. Ludlow St, Dayton 5 p.m. Thursday, March 21. The bar features jazz an oysters on Thursdays.