Friday Night Live returns to downtown Waukesha

Published on: 6/2/2014

Crowds pack the streets for the Friday Night Live summer concert series in downtown Waukesha throughout the summer.

But none more than opening night.

The annual weekly series returns Friday, June 6, at nine stages across downtown. And with the unveiling of the guitars for the Waukesha GuitarTown project, Waukesha Downtown Business Association President Norm Bruce expects big things this week.

Les Paul connection

'We've kind of established the tradition where we open Friday Night Live near Les Paul's birthday and it's like a Les Paul birthday party,' Bruce said. 'It makes sense for us to do that.'

The GuitarTown event honors music icon and Waukesha native Les Paul, who would have turned 99 on June 9.

There will be an event dedicated to the latest GuitarTown creations before music kicks off at 6:30 p.m. The music goes until 9 p.m.

The weekly summer series is every Friday throughout June, July, August and September and features more than 70 musical performers from all genres.

Staging the event

Bruce said there aren't any changes to the stage locations.

They are: the Christian Music Stage sponsored by AllĂ´! Chocolat, 234 W. Main St.; Cuddles & Martha Merrell's stage, 231 W. Main St.; the Waukesha Civic Theatre stage at the Riverfront Plaza; Thomas Press and Salty Toad stage, 920 and 921 Friedman Drive; a stage sponsored by The Steaming Cup, People's Park and the Almont Gallery at 340 W. Main St.; Hannon's Rock Stage, 357 West Broadway; Mia's on Clinton stage, 800 Clinton St.; the Kids from Waukesha Stage, sponsored by the Waukesha Community Art Project, 320 South St.; and a stage outside of Magellan's, 370 W. Main St.

Bruce said planning for the event has gone well and doesn't see the road construction that is wrapping up on Clinton Street as a problem. The road project is on schedule to be finished by the end of the month.

'I don't see it as an issue,' Bruce said. 'We've been talking to the city for three years because they've wanted to do Clinton Street for a while. We worked in cooperation with the city on the project and the city really cooperated. I think that kind of cooperation is what helped in this project (stay on schedule).'

What's in a name

One change to the event, however, is Friday Night Live's name. It has parted ways with the Waukesha Freeman as its title sponsor. The newspaper had been in the event's title for many years.

'We've done what I call a rebranding effort,' Bruce said. 'We've rebranded the Farmers Market (an event the WDBA puts on) and now Friday Night Live to say these events are brought to you by the WDBA. It's the same rebranding. We thought we needed to change the event.'

Bruce said Friday Night Live has grown in recent years and, as the event has become 'more regional,' the WDBA wanted to give credit to those 'who are making things happen in downtown.'

'The WDBA is bringing these events to them,' Bruce said.

Bruce said the Freeman will still be a media sponsor for the event and added there are discussions with multiple radio stations as well.

'We're getting more variety in what we're doing,' Bruce said of new sponsors. 'We feel the new sponsors will help get our name out there and be good for business.'