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Musicians take the stage at Watkins Park

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Countless legendary jazz and blues musicians, such as Wes Montgomery and Freddie Hubbard, began their rise to the top by performing on Indianapolis’ famed Indiana Avenue. Indy Parks is preserving the city’s rich musical history with the Blues and Jazz in the Park concert series. A new generation of talented musicians will take the stage at Watkins Park throughout the summer, giving music lovers who missed out on The Avenue’s heyday the chance to experience the sound that made it spectacular. 

Alonzo Johnson Sr., manager at Watkins Park, says the concert series has been going on for 18 years, though it has only been at Watkins for the past 10. Alternating between jazz and blues music each session, the free concerts take place every other Sunday at 5 p.m. The series kicked off earlier this month and will conclude on Sept. 10. 

“It’s one of the largest free concerts in the state and so many people come out, it’s just awesome. We get support from a lot of local shops around the area as well as the community. Vendors come out and sell purses, food and jewelry,” said Johnson. 

Though Johnson oversees operations, putting on this concert series is a community effort. Nearby businesses including barbershops, restaurants and even a cemetery sponsor the event. Men from veteran’s organization American Legion Post 249 help find artists who are willing to share their music. 

A wealth of local talent is scheduled to perform throughout the season, including young sensation Bryan Thompson and blues group Todd Harrold Band. Johnson feels that this event offers a glance back into a part of Indy’s history.

“There is a lot of history in out city when it comes to jazz and blues. Right up the street (from Watkins Park) there is the famous Madam Walker Theatre, where a lot of musicians performed, but the community has taken on so much in the last 20 or so years. This is something that we want to keep going, because we don’t want to lose that history or type of community.”

In addition to the Blues and Jazz in the Park concert series, Indy Parks is offering an abundance of events at various parks across the city, including Jazz on the Point at Eagle Creek Park and Shakespeare in the Park at Garfield Park. For more information, visit facebook.com/indyparksandrec and click on “events.” 


Blues and Jazz in the Park takes place at 5 p.m. at Watkins Park, 2360 Dr. MLK Jr. St., every other Sunday now through Sept. 10.


Blues and Jazz

in the Park

concert schedule 

June 25: Jazz — 

Bryan Thompson

July 9: Blues — 

Harvey Cook and

the Blue Tones

July 30: Jazz — 

Sandy Lomax and Friends

Aug. 13: Blues — 

Todd Harrold Band

Aug. 27: Jazz —

The Finnell Factor

Sept. 10: Blues — 

Ken “Harpman” Skelton and Friends (4 p.m.)

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