WEIRTON - The third season of the Weirton Event Center's free summer concert series gets under way Friday, with a variety of concerts in the lineup.
According to officials with the Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitor's Bureau, which organizes the series, crowds grew by 40 percent from 2012 to 2014, and as a result, the series has grown to include 12 concerts this summer.
"We had more than 6,000 people come out for the concerts last year," said CVB Executive Director Dan Greathouse, who created the Weirton Event Center to give families a place to gather and see friends. "This year, we are bringing in more bands from around the region, who will be bringing in different sounds, including southern rock and steel drums."
Friday's opening concert will feature Pat Heiserman at 7 p.m. and Easy Street Band at 8 p.m. The gates open at 6 p.m. and attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket. Concessions will be available at the Event Center, which is located at 3322 East St., Weirton.
Heiserman, a Weirton singer/songwriter who describes his style as blues/rock, has been playing and teaching guitar in the region for 25 years. He performs a mix of covers and originals, which are featured on his CD "Save Me."
Easy Street Band switches between musical genres including Classic R&B, rock, soul, funk and blues. This year, the six-piece ensemble has a new lead singer, Erin Earlewine, who their literature calls "a dynamo on stage."
Some of the greatest hits from last season will also be returning this year - the car cruze, the observance of West Virginia's birthday celebration, and Beatlemania Magic.
The first car cruze will be May 30. On June 20, The Davisson Brothers will bring gritty southern rock to downtown Weirton.
This year, the Event Center also will be the site for the annual appearance of the Wheeling Symphony on July 3, sponsored by the Weirton Community Foundation, and the Band Blast, battle-of-the-bands competition, on July 4.
Free parking is available for all events at the Event Center, as well as in the Municipal Plaza and Strip Steel credit union's parking lot.
Additional information on shows will be available on the Event Center's Facebook page and the CVB's website.
The 2014 Weirton Event Center Free Friday Concert season lineup includes:
May 23 Pat Heiserman/Easy Street Band
May 30 Picture Perfect/DeJa' Vu (Car Cruze)
June 6 Roz and Lynn/Tri State Community Band
June 13 Kylar Kuzio/Jill West and Blues Attack
June 20 WV Birthday Celebration featuring The Davisson Brothers and fireworks
June 27 Justin Fabus Band
July 3 Wheeling Symphony (sponsored by the Weirton Community Foundation) and fireworks
July 4 Band Blast and Legend and Fourth of July Fireworks (evening sponsored by Renaissance Weirton)
July 25 Steel Cassa/Bone Daddy (Car Cruze)
Aug. 1 Spinning Jenny/US Kids
Aug. 8 Beatlemania Magic
Aug. 15 The Joseph Sisters/Legend
Aug. 22 Tres Lads