Jody Odom Jr.

Local singer/songwriter Jody Odom Jr. will be the featured performer this summer during a free summer concert series by the 50-piece Concert Band of Local 159 of the American Federation of Musicians.

MANSFIELD -- The 50-piece Concert Band of Local 159 of the American Federation of Musicians will play five free outdoor concerts this summer.

Scheduled performances are at Mansfield's South Park Pavilion (June 28 at 7 p.m.), Downtown Crestline (July 1 at 7 p.m.), Lexington's Bicentennial Park (July 4 at 11:30 a.m.), Shelby's Seltzer Park (July 10 at 7 p.m.), and Bellville's downtown gazebo (July 11 at 7 p.m..)

The band, under the direction of Steve Taylor, is made up of professional players from six area counties, including Richland, Ashland, Crawford, Delaware, Knox, and Wayne.

Fast-paced and varied, the band will stretch the usual "band concert tradition" by celebrating several American rock classic hits, in addition to some well-known marches and a patriotic finale.

Concerts will feature local singer Jody Odom. Admission to the concerts is free.

Many of the performers regularly play in the woodwind, brass, and percussion sections of the Mansfield, Ashland, and Wooster symphony orchestras. Local personality Roger Price will serve as "host" for the concert's outdoor "party" atmosphere, as both he and Taylor encourage families to bring a picnic, lawn chairs, blankets and beach balls for some musical fun.

Taylor said that like all new musical genres through the ages, it took some decades for "Rock" music to move into the mainstream of respected enduring styles.

He said that, during his 41 years of directing bands, many songs once looked down upon as "just pop" have become firmly established classics both in the U.S. and around the world.

"With this summer marking 50 years since the groundbreaking Woodstock festival, it's just a natural choice to use the power and versatility of this large group of professional players to highlight some of those same songs. We hope that people of all ages will enjoy a beautiful, fun summer night as we reminisce through many great songs of the 1960s and 1970s," he said.

Taylor, now in his 14th summer conducting the Local 159 Concert Band, said he greatly enjoys conducting the group.

"The instrumentation of a full concert band and percussion section lends itself to just about any style of music, and these fine players have the experience and versatility to bring it all to life," he said.

In addition, he and his wife, flutist Gail Taylor, first joined the band in 1979, and truly enjoy the camaraderie that exists, which they credit mostly to long-time Mansfield conductor Percy Hall.

Included in a long list of songs the band will play are Joe Cocker's "With a Little Help from My Friends," The Who's "Pinball Wizard," C.C.R.'s "Proud Mary," and even Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze," all of which all of which exploded on the music scene after legendary performances at Woodstock.

Other selections will include a medley of tunes from The Mamas and the Papas, hits by the Beatles, and highlights from the rock musical "Hair."

Many of the selections will feature Odom, a singer-songwriter, theater stage performer, and keyboardist.

Odom has been writing songs since he was 10, while singing and dancing just as long. He is most known for posting a capella covers online using his own arrangements.

Rooted in Gospel and musical theater he helps provide his audience with a stage presence worth remembering. He has performed roles Jack from "Into the Woods", Tevye from "Fiddler on the Roof", Jesus from "Godspell", The King in "The King and I", Seaweed from "Hairspray," and Genie in "Aladdin".

While working in his theater community, he is also involved in the music scene with his band performing covers and original music of funk, rock, soul, pop, gospel and more.

Concert-goers are encouraged to bring their own seating or blankets as available benches usually fill-up quickly. For more information, check the A.F.M. website at  http://www.afmlocal159.com.

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