CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Blues singer Shemekia Copeland and Grateful Dead re-enactors Dark Star Orchestra are among the national acts coming to town when Charleston's free "Live on the Levee" concert series expands this year to include national and international entertainment.
Local officials announced the new lineup Monday.
Live on the Levee runs every Friday from May 25 through Aug. 31 at Haddad Riverfront Park. Now in its ninth year, the festival originally began with all local bands.
Charleston City Councilman Tom Lane, considered one of the founders of Live on the Levee, said city leaders met 10 years ago to come up with a plan to make Charleston a more vibrant city. Part of that plan was to stage festivals and events downtown, and Live on the Levee was among them.
Lane said the city now has events scheduled from May through October. "Every weekend in Charleston there is an exciting event going on," he said.
Mayor Danny Jones said Live on the Levee started out small, but the addition of major sponsors that include Moses Auto Group allowed planners to bring in nationally and internationally known acts.
Live on the Levee emcee Jim Strawn said the budget has grown from about $27,000 three years ago to more than $87,000 this year. City officials and Live on the Levee planners believe the addition of bigger acts -- all free -- will bring in out-of-town visitors to stay in Charleston's hotels and eat at the city's restaurants.
National and international acts scheduled this year include Copeland on June 15 and Dark Star Orchestra on July 13. Dark Star Orchestra recreates specific concerts from the Dead's heyday, and has a large national following, planners said.
Other national and international performers include The Henry Girls trio from Ireland, rock band Brownsville Station ("Smokin' in the Boys Room"), Detroit-based bluegrass band Greensky Bluegrass and honky tonk band The Sweetback Sisters.
Many local and regional favorites will also be back again this year, organizers said.
For more information visit www.liveontheleveecharleston.com.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.
LIVE ON THE LEVEE SCHEDULE: