Once Thought Gone, Payson Park Music’s Summer Concerts Are Back

Photo: The logo of the Payson Park Music Festival

After nearly being cancelled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, the third time was a charm as the founder of the Payson Park Music Festival was successful in getting the four-decade old summer tradition underway Wednesday (before the rains came) with the perennial favorite THE LOVE DOGS.

Tomi Olsen, who founded the music series in 1990 and continues to run the operation, last week convinced the Recreation Commission and the Board of Health on Monday to grant a permit for the first in an abbreviated concert season at its home venue in Payson Park.

“I know we can bring in more as people have been asking for the music. We definitely don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize the [concerts],” Olsen told the board Monday.

But the festival known for its Woodstock-like concert setting with attendees bunched up near the stage and kids running around this year will have the feel of a theater performance with assigned “seating” and ushers as prescribed by the Health Board to the annoyance of Olsen.

The festival’s season – filled with a lineup of pop, rock, blues and country groups – appeared all but dead when the state’s shut down order in mid-March.

In June, Olsen believed she could make a go of it by moving the concerts to Belmont Center to the patio of the Bellmont Caffe on Leonard Street. But the alternative plan was squashed by the Health Department as being far too risky in the early stages of reopening the state.

But Olsen received her own last minute reprieve when Gov. Charlie Baker announced the state was entering Phase Three of a planned reopening on July 6 which allows for greater use of outdoor space. Olsen with the help of Juliet Jenkins came before the Recreation Commission which controls the operations of the park with a vague concept on opening the festival and asking the commission for ideas.

The commission told Olsen and Jenkins they would tentatively approve weekly permits if the festival won approval from the Health Department. At Monday’s meeting, Olsen announced a lengthy list of safety measures include mask wearing and a diagram of the park with 25 10-foot circles spaced 6 feet apart where patrons would sit. The park’s children’s playground will be off-limits and kids will need to stay with their parents during the concerts.

Board of Health Chair Stephen Fiore told Olsen the board agreed with a Recreation Commission recommendation to issue permits “week-to-week” rather than the standard season permit “just so that you know everything is following the process … and everyone feels comfortable that it’s in a place where it needs to be.”

It was the final requirements requested by the Health Board – volunteer ushers and patron’s contact information – that appeared to rankle Olsen as the impositions were going beyond the template used for the Farmers Market.

But the last minute additions did not deter Olsen from getting her permit and holding the first concert on Wednesday, July 22.

“In a world where people [are] a little touchy … our goal is to bring just a little bit of joy,” said Jenkins.

The next concert is scheduled for Wednesday, July 29 at 6:30 p.m. with Tomi’s All Stars featuring Binny Stone, James Brown Jr., Billy T.,
Karl Bryan, Lee Lundy, & Sir Cecil and sponsored by East Boston Savings Bank and Belmont Against Racism.

Belmont’s Battle Of The Bands Opens Payson Park Music Festival June 20


The fifth annual Battle of the Bands sponsored by Belmont Savings Bank opens the 28th season of the Payson Park Music Festival on Wednesday, June 20 at Payson Park. Middle school and high school bands from local communities will compete to be Battle of the Bands Champions. The concert begins at 6:45 p.m.

The band competing this year are:

  • Moonkite Buzzards
  • Fourshadow
  • Sweet Relief
  • Flip the Page

The Payson Park Music Festival runs every Wednesday evening until Aug. 29. June and July concerts start at 6:45 p.m. Beginning mid-August, start time is 6:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. due to the earlier sunset. In addition to the evening program, four children’s programs will be offered on consecutive Fridays at 10:30 a.m., beginning July 6 and ending July 27.

All the participating bands will receive a $25 AMEX gift card. The winning band will get a $250 grand prize, courtesy of Belmont Saving. The bank will be giving away a Sony XB30 speaker.

The bank will also post a video of each band in advance of the concert on its Facebook page. The band with the most votes (“Likes”) will receive a “Favorite on Facebook” award: a $50 AMEX gift card.

Six Projects Clear First Hurdle Towards Securing CPC Funding

Photo: The Belmont Veterans Memorial project.

More fields being restored, a “re-do” and a saving a Belmont barn have submitted preliminary applications for funding by the town’s Community Preservation Committee, according to information released by the CPC on Tuesday, Oct. 3.

A total of six applications were received by the committee by its Sept.29 deadline,  according to Michael Trainor, who this week stepped down from the CPC Admin Coordinator position after five years of working for the CPC.

While five of the six have specific dollar amounts, one – the second request for an inter-generational walking path at the Grove Street Playground – was submitted without a price tag attached.

But in the preliminary application stage, “it’s not entirely necessary since the CPC is just looking at whether or not the project would be eligible to receive funding under Mass General Law and Belmont’s specific list of criteria,” said Trainor.

With the amount for the Grove Street project to come, the total dollars requested is $748,000. While the CPC will select the projects to obtain grants, Town Meeting will have the final say which receives funding.

The projects, the amount requested and the applicants are:

  • Town Field Playground restoration $180,000 (Courtney Eldridge, Friends of Town Field Playground)
  • Payson Park Music Festival shed/hatch $50,000 (Tomi Olson, Payson Park Music Festival)
  • McLean Barn conditions study and stabilization $165,000 (Ellen O’Brien, Lauren Meier, Glenn Clancy) 
  • Belmont Veterans Memorial restoration and enhancement $103,000 (Angelo Firenze, Belmont Veterans Memorial Committee)
  • Funds set aside for the Housing Trust $250,000 (Judith Feins, Belmont Housing Trust)
  • Construction of a Grove Street Park Intergenerational Walking Path TBD (Donna Ruvolo, Friends of Grove Street Park)

The Town Field project follows other park restoration projects including this year’s PQ Park renovation and the Grove Street Park path is similar in aim and name as the one approved for Clay Pit Pond. Tomi Olson’s hatch shell project was submitted last year but rejected after Olson could not produce the written support of abutters the committee had requested. Belmont received the abandoned dairy barn, located just south of the Rock Meadow Conservation Land off Mill Street, in 2005 from McLean Hospital. And the Belmont Veterans Memorial has been raising private funds to help pay for the renovation and construction on Clay Pit Pond.

Important dates for the applicants include:

  • Nov. 8, 2017: a public meeting to discuss the applications.
  • Dec. 4, 2017: Final applications are due
  • Jan. 12, 2018: The CPC selects projects
  • March 2, 2018: Project Summary Reports Due 
  • Late April 2018: League of Women Voters Meeting
  • Early May 2018: Town Meeting

Payson Park Will Host ‘Battle of the Bands’ Wednesday, Aug 9

Photo: Payson Park Music Festival’s 4th annual Battle of the Bands.

The Payson Park Music Festival will host the 4th annual Battle of the Bands concert featuring local youth rock bands. The show will be held Aug. 9 at 6:45 p.m. at Payson Park at the corner of Elm and Payson.

The Belmont Savings Bank once again is sponsoring this popular community event.
Bands will compete for first place which will be decided by an audience vote. So be sure to come out and support our local musicians. 
Participating Bands Include:
  • Circus Trees
  • Chesley Road
  • Fourshadow
  • Xhosa
  • Waltham Show Band
Check out videos of these bands on the Belmont Savings Bank Facebook page. The video with the most likes will win the Favorite on Facebook award at the concert.
Balloons, snacks, and beverages will be available.
The full Payson Park Summer Music Festival Schedule can be found here.

Payson Park Music Festival’s 27th Season Opens Wed., June 21

Photo: Poster

The 27th season of the Payson Park Music Festival Committee opens Wednesday, June 21, at 6:45 p.m. with “Craig and the Hurricane” sponsored by Emello & Pagani Realty and The Spirited Gourmet.

“We are thrilled to continue this tradition offering the community fun and family-friendly music on summer nights,” says Tomi Olson, Payson Park Music Festival’s director.  “We receive such fabulous feedback on the concerts from all ages of fans.”

For the full schedule and more information, including how you can get involved, visit www.ppmf.org.

The Payson Park Music Festival runs Wednesdays until August 30. June and July evening concerts start at 6:45 pm; beginning mid-August, start time is 6:30 pm. In addition to the evening program, four children’s programs will be offered on consecutive Fridays at 10:30 am, beginning July 7 and ending July 28. All concerts are held at Payson Park.

“Join us if you love soft, summer days and evenings, music, and the Belmont community,” Tomi said.  “Bring a picnic supper and a blanket, come down and enjoy a wonderful evening!”  Volunteer and sponsorship opportunities also exist.

The Payson Park Music Festival Committee is a 501(c)(3) organization funded by private citizens and made available through the cooperation and support by the Town of Belmont. 

Third Annual Battle Of The Bands Set For June 22 At Payson Park

Photo: Last year’s winning band, Belmont’s own Free Shipping.

Belmont Savings Bank will be sponsoring the upcoming third annual Battle of the Bands on Wednesday June 22 at Payson Park. Middle school and high school bands from local communities are able to compete to be Battle of the Bands Champions.

The annual event opens the Payson Park Music Festival’s 2016 season.

Band interested in competing can contact Belmont Savings at marketing@belmontsavings.com. The concert begins at 6:45 p.m. Or if you would like to enter a band into the contest, contact marketing@belmontsavings.com.

All the participating bands will receive a $25 iTunes gift card. The winning band will get a $250 grand prize. The concert is proudly sponsored by Belmont Savings, which will be on-hand to add to the festivities by giving away a free Bose Soundlink.

The bank will also post a video of each band in advance of the concert on its Facebook page. which The band with the most votes (“Likes”) will receive a “Favorite on Facebook” award: a $50 AMEX gift card.

The bands so far are:

  • The Hitchikers
  • Mother Russia
  • Non Prophet
  • Waltham Show Band

For more please visit: https://www.belmontsavings.com/community/battle-of-the-bands/

Strike Up The Summer Band: Belmont’s Once-A-Year Musical Get-Together

Photo: On stage with the Belmont Summer Community Band.

“You’re playing great,” said Arto Asadoorian as he directs a collection of amateurs and students in a hurry-up rehearsal of an overture from the Disney movie, “Frozen.” 

Yet the drummer has yet to get a feel for the piece, which Asadoorian found a bit amusing.

“What, am I the only person to have seen that film a thousand times?” he wonders aloud from the stage of the Belmont High School auditorium last Tuesday afternoon. 

Unlike the orchestra and bands he directs as Belmont Public School’s Director of Fine and Performing Arts, Asadoorian is putting about 40 residents, students and alum through the paces as the Belmont Community Summer Band prepares for its once-a-year concert on Wednesday, July 29 beginning around 7:30 p.m. at the Payson Park Music Festival.

Now in its second season, the band – filled with brass and woodwinds accompanied by percussions – will be preforming along with “Frozen” several works that are band standards, including those pieces that you’d likely hear at sitting in the town green somewhere in England.

For Asadoorian, who came up with the idea of creating a local band, it’s a chance to keep some of the high schoolers practicing and playing during the summer, an opportunity to welcome back former students and meet skilled amateurs who are looking to spend a few hours for a month – a total of three rehearsals – learning works to enjoy performing.

“In Belmont, we’re fortunate to have such a wealth of musical talent,” said Asadoorian.

“It’s a really nice way to all come together as a community of music makers and have come fun together,” he said. 

There’s an easy rapport between players and conductor; the ensemble takes the music to heart and Asadoorian attempts to shape it into a concert piece despite the limited time together.

There are more hits than misses, with Asadoorian keeping the tempo and atmosphere light.

When a particular passage of music hits the mark, Asadoorian quipped, “Band director of the year – tell them to play what’s on the page.” 

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Battle of the Bands A Knockout Opener for Payson Park Music Festival

Photo: Will Goldsmith (right) of “The Nutrition Facts” at Payson Park Music Festival’s Battle of the Bands.

Will Goldsmith, the guitarist for the rock trio “The Nutrition Facts” (“The name is subject to change” he said) is bouncing around the stage like a pro during his band’s set during the Battle of the Bands at the Payson Park Music Festival; grimacing, windmilling, jumping up and down with beat like a mini-Angus Young – the lead guitarist of ACDC which happens to be Will’s guitar inspiration. 

“I picked up [the guitar] because I thought it was cool and I wanted to be cool,” said the Newton resident who attends the The Meadowbrook School in Weston. 

“I love it, it’s really fun,” said Goldsmith, who finished the set with a series of serious chops and a fist pumping in the air. 

Oh, by the way, he’s 11. As in elementary school. E-lev-en. 

Goldsmith’s band was one of four outstanding groups which rocked Payson Park before a packed grounds – Payson-palooza? – on Wednesday, June 17, the opening act of the festival celebrating its 25th anniversary. 

“It’s fun and great to see the kids play,” said Tomi Olson, the founder and director of the festival.

“It’s a great start to the summer. It’s nice to be able to come out and hear music outside. It’s revitalizing,” she said. 

For the second year, the season began with groups made up of high school, and this year, middle school (and with the case of Goldsmith, even younger) students who proved that you’re never too young to rock. 

The Dominoes from Newton are made up of sixth grade classmates from the Charles Brown Middle School, fronted by standout soloist Abby Matthews, who is just a year older than Goldsmith.

Since getting together a year ago, “we are really so much better,” said Matthews who captured the crowd with covers from Katy Perry and Adele. 

“It’s really exciting to be here in front of these many people,” she said, which included the group’s parents who were just as enthusiastic just listening to their kids. 

Along with Radium, made up of members of the Waltham High School Show Band (which finished the sets with a James Brown cover that was a show stopper) was Belmont’s own Free Shipping, a sophomore quintet that had considerable support of several female classmates in the audience taking Instagram photos during their set. 

“I follow them everywhere,” said Chloe Brown of Belmont. “They work hard and they have a good vibe.” 

And the band, fronted by Jasper Wolf, with Tino Decoulos (guitar), lead guitar Nico (Bono) Albano, Aidan Hamell (guitar and keyboard) and drummer Tommy Slap, was named the night’s winner – receiving a $250 gift certificate from the night’s sponsor Belmont Savings Bank – with a set that was both smooth and edgy.

Laurie Slap, the drummer’s mom and School Committee Chair, said her son’s playing was “sensational” and the band “is a testament of the great music program we have in Belmont.” 

Asked about having a drummer in the house since third grade, Slap said “I like [Tommy’s] playing.”

Payson Park Music Festival Celebrates Quarter Century with Battling Bands

Photo: 2014 Battle of the Bands (Belmont Media Center screenshot)

(This article was sent as a Letter to the Editor from Tommasina Olson, the festival’s founder)

Dear editor:

This year Payson Park Music Festival celebrates 25 years of summer concert music. When we first began we were one of 2 Summer Concerts Series in all the Commonwealth, the only other in the Berkshires.

Our first concert this year is Wednesday, June 17, starting at 6:45 p.m., and is compliments of Belmont Savings Bank. Belmont Savings has assembled some great talent for this year’s “Battle of the Bands.”

The Series runs every Wednesday evening beginning approximately 6:45 p.m. although start time in August is a bit earlier in due to failing sunlight. We offer the opportunity to those Belmont children who wish to have their own lemonade to manage our Popsicle stand. And yes, there are presently 11 openings for Popsicle vendors  (See the website for information)

 We also produce four children’s concerts on Fridays at 1030 a.m. In case of rain, the Kiddie Concerts will move inside to the Library. The Kiddie Concerts are the generous gift of former Selectman Ralph Jones and his wife Sherry.

In total, the Series produces between 15 and 16 concerts each Summer.  All of this is done, without any financial burden to the town, through the kindness of Belmont neighbors and friends, local businesses, members of several Town departments.

There are several notable people who I would like to mention for their inspiration and commitment to the Payson Park Music Festival:

  • Linda Oates for beautifying the Park before we knew what we would use it for
  • Selectman Mark Paolillo for being a Board Member.
  • Dr. David Alper one of the original Supporters, an annual Sponsor,  and a committed Cheerleaded
  • Illustrator Alan Witchonke the designer of our fabulous and timeless logo
  • Attorney Stephen Rosales who put together our 501c3 application many years ago
  • Brian Saper who donated the concrete for our stage and the Highway Department for pouring the concrete.
  • Sharon Rich and Nancy Reed who served several years as volunteer fundraisers.
  • Town employees who I knew as Butler PTA parents who have given willingly of their time.
  • June Howell of the Recreation Department
  • Joe Urciolo of the Department of Public Works
  • Jimmy Salmon, recently retired from the Light Department
  • And finally, Emily and Hank Thideman who oversaw the Kiddie Popsicle Stand for many season.

A quarter century is a proud milestone for Payson Park Music Festival. We hope to see you at the Park!

James Brown and The Blues Dogs at Payson Park

James Brown Jr. will be joining The Blues Dogs at the penultimate concert of the 2014 Payson Park Music Festival tonight, Wednesday, Aug. 20 beginning around 6:30 p.m.

The Blues Dogs, which is a perennial visitor to the Festival, “is a collection of Boston mutts that all love to play the blues,” according to its website.

“That stuff that gets you to tapping your foot, nodding your head, and then just to shaking all over. Feeling good music.”

The quarter-century Payson Park Music Festival is held at Payson Park Playground at the corner of Payson Road and Elm Street.

The concert is sponsored by the Alper Family.