NEWBURYPORT — Today is “Americana” day on the three music stages of Yankee Homecoming, save for the fact that Beatlejuice, which plays Brit covers, is performing at night on the waterfront.
So be it. Close to 100 groups will have played here this week, and somehow it all seems to blend into a “something for everyone” experience.
“We have a wide range, with more professional musicians than in past years,” said Connie Salerno, a volunteer and music instructor who manages the ambitious schedule. “With professionals there are fewer cancellations, and we haven’t had to plug in too many groups.
“Many bands are getting used to coming here, and they like Newburyport as a destination. They are great to come and perform.”
Music is a key feature of Yankee Homecoming, in part because it’s free. Tunes emanate from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day on Inn Street, Market Square and on the waterfront stage.
The term “free” is the operative term because listeners aren’t charged and (day) performers do not receive paychecks. Those playing the night session on the waterfront are recompensed.
One group that appeared to enjoy its session yesterday was Cuppa Joe, a collection of musicians associated with the Musical Suite at the Tannery.
“Playing outdoors with the sunshine and a little breeze is a great thing,” said Chuck Walker, who heads the talented swing and blues band.
“Inn Street was a good set-up for us and there were places for people to sit. We’re close, so this works for us.”
The band is playing tonight from 7 to 10 at Andiamo Restaurant on Winter Street, he said.
Assigned to the Market Square venue yesterday was Paul Prue, a veteran blues guitarist who performed songs from the ‘30s (Robert Johnson) to the ‘70s (protest tunes from the demonstrations against the nuclear plant at Seabrook).
“I started at the Grog four decades ago, and I consider Newburyport my second home,” said Prue, an engaging musician who runs summer music presentations in Bradford (Haverhill).
“Yankee Homecoming has created a community of those who play music and those who appreciate it. There aren’t many cities that can pull off something like this.”
Prue runs an open mic night on Wednesday evenings at the Grog, which is open to newcomers and veterans alike.
Elena Lewis of Waltham, listening to the tunes, said she came to Newburyport for the first time as part of her vacation. “I like the music, and the fact it is community-based. I’m interested in black history, and I will be going over to the Maritime Museum later,” she said.
Another visitor, Barbara Sager of Haverhill, said, “The waterfront and the music make for a good place on a hot day. We’ll listen to some bands, then go to a restaurant we read about as being one of the best on the North Shore (Ceia).”
Playing on the waterfront tonight will be Beatlejuce, the New England-based cover band that reproduces Beatles music. They play early Beatles to late Beatles and have been a favorite when they’ve played here before.
A key member is bass player Joe Holaday of Newburyport, husband of Mayor Donna Holaday, who doesn’t have to commute far to play this particular gig.
“This is one of our favorite shows all year,” said Holaday, who noted the group plays 80 to 100 dates per year. “The venue is just great, with the river at your back and a park in front. It is well attended. We started in 1994, and now we see three generations of a family singing the tunes and the music. It’s great to see listeners of all ages enjoying the show.”
The following is today’s published schedule of music acts on Americana Day:
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Merrimac Hat Company;
1:30 to 3:30 p.m. — Some Fortune So Said the Sun
4 p.m. to 6 p.m. — Chuck Walker Quartet
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Bob Potter
1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. — Jamie Welch
3 p.m. to 4 p.m. — Whitney Doucet
4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. — Trusting Fate
6 p.m. — National anthem, by Whitney Doucet
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. — The Bridge
1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. — The Funky Divas
3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. — Lori Timony
Beatlejuice, 7:30 to 9 p.m.