Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News from Greater Falls Church

Summer may be winding down, but there still is time to enjoy the free summer outdoor concert series, Spotlight by Starlight, at Mason District Park. Tomorrow night’s performance features the City of Fairfax “Alte Kameraden German” Band.

The band performs many traditional and familiar Bavarian tunes, and in costume! Although the Oktoberfest spirit reigns in late August, sadly, no beer (or other alcoholic beverage) is allowed in the park!

This Saturday’s final morning children’s show will feature Pirate Jack and his musical sea voyage. The show begins at 10 a.m.; children of all ages are welcome.

On Sunday, the All New Genetically Altered Jug Band (ANGAJB) will present “music that makes you smile.” This is a new group for the amphitheatre show, so you’ll have to come out and decide for yourself. Wednesday’s show is Big Bertha’s Rhythm Kings, featuring a high intensity mix of swing and Dixieland.

On Friday, Aug. 29, Karma from Tibet will present spectacular Tibetan cultural performances involving the use of colorful costumes and the playing of horns, cymbals and other traditional Tibetan instruments. The performance also will feature the premiere of Tibetan folk dances by Tibetan-American children. Along with the wonderful music and dance, authentic Tibetan foods will be available for purchase before the performance. It’s a good evening to leave the pots and pans in the kitchen, come out to the park and enjoy a Tibetan picnic, too.

The last concert in the summer series, on Sunday, Aug. 31, will feature the Skyline Vocal Band, an a cappella group that uses no instruments, only the human voice. All evening shows begin at 7:30 p.m. The Spotlight by Starlight free concert series is sponsored by the Friends of Mason District Park and the Fairfax County Park Authority. Corporate sponsorship has been provided this year by Cox Communications, Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads, The West*Group, Exxon Mobil and the Music Performance Trust Fund. Mason District Park is located at 6621 Columbia Pike in Annandale. After entering the park, turn right and go up the hill to the parking lot. A short walk down an asphalt trail leads directly to the Newton Edwards Amphitheatre for the concerts. Bench seating is available, but many patrons prefer to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets. An accessible viewing platform for wheelchair patrons also is on site.

I often am asked about the history of the amphitheatre and the summer concerts. The original structure was built in 1984 and named for Newton Edwards, a Park Authority member from Mason District who was instrumental in obtaining the 121-acre former pony farm on Columbia Pike for a county park. Regular concerts began in the early 1990s. A 1993 brochure lists programs on most Sundays, some Friday and Saturday evenings, and a variety of children’s programs on Saturday mornings, for a total of 25 shows. Today’s schedule lists 50 shows overall, including a full jazz series on Wednesday evenings. In October 2004, the amphitheatre burned to the ground following an electrical storm. It was rebuilt to the original configuration in record time, re-opening in June 2005.