June 18, 2009

Automatic Slim at Frederick Rd. Fridays

The black clouds came rolling in quickly that warm Friday night last summer, just as David Carreon and the other members of the band Automatic Slim were beginning to set up their speakers on Egges Lane.
The band's gig -- part of the first Frederick Road Fridays outdoor summer concert series in downtown Catonsville -- was "stormed out" shortly thereafter, the Catonsville resident said.
It was a bummer.
But the guys of Automatic Slim -- all in their 40s and 50s, many of them local residents who have played together for upward of 20 years -- are back in town this Friday, June 19, to kick off the concert series' second season.
"We're really glad Catonsville is doing something musically," Carreon said. "Hopefully, the weather will hold out this year."
According to Craig Witzke, a local developer whose idea it was to start the event last summer, this summer's series will feature concerts every Friday through September.
"We've essentially doubled the offerings," he said, noting that last summer's series was every other week.
The growth stems from the series being "extremely successfully" last year in "getting feet on the street," Witzke said.
With expanded support from the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce and businesses up and down Frederick Road, he hopes this summer will be even more successful, he said.
"We want people to come over and visit Frederick Road," he said.
"The hope is that people will come here, enjoy dinner at one of the restaurants on Frederick Road and then walk over, listen to some music, have a nice time, maybe visit Jenning's beer garden, walk around and visit some shops and stay for a while."
The "beer garden," offered by Jenning's Cafe, is an added touch of adult entertainment to an already fun night, he said.
But it's just one part of an event that is really geared toward families bringing their children out for an evening on the town, he said.
That vibe is perfect for Automatic Slim, Carreon said.
Many of the band's longtime fans are middle-aged with children, he said, so late-night bar gigs aren't always the best for bringing out their fan base.
"A lot of our crowd aren't able to make it to those events because they have Little League or homework or recitals," he said.
"So it's nice to have these gigs that are early and are outside, and the families can be away from where they're serving alcohol if they want to," he said.
"It's more like a concert; it's not a night club gig late. It's early and outside, so we hope that we get a lot of people to come out."
The concert starts at 6:30 p.m. and ends at 8:30 p.m.
Automatic Slim is a four-man band -- Carreon on guitar and vocals; Jim Harrell, of Catonsville, on a second guitar; Jack DiPietro, of Catonsville, on bass; and Clark Matthews, who Carreon called an "honorary Catonsvillian," on drums.
Matthews is sitting in for Scott Stump, the band's regular drummer, who can't make the show.
The band mostly plays blues, but also does "American roots" rock and some country.
They also play blues instrumentals and some of their own songs.
All their music is "heavy on the guitar work," Carreon said.
"We're all family guys, so we don't have that much time to do stuff, so music is our outlet," he said.
"We just look forward to playing music when we can."
Witzke said having Catonsville residents perform adds another layer of hometown charm to the concert series, and said this year's line-up is "outstanding."
That's partially because the concert series has attracted "more bands than we (have) dates," creating a backlog of hopeful Frederick Road Fridays performers, Witzke said.
This summer's series is even being extended to Sept. 11 upon a request by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, which wanted its students returning for the fall semester to have a chance to attend, Witzke said.
"UMBC really wanted to be a part of it as well," he said.
A complete series schedule can be found on the chamber's Web site, www.catonsville.org.
Reprinted from the Catonsville Times

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