The bandshell is back. Starting Saturday, June 23, Jones Beach State Park’s nightly entertainment by the boardwalk brings a full summer schedule of free entertainment ranging from movies to music. Here are five ways you can spend an evening:
WEDNESDAYS, FRIDAYS, SATURDAYS: LIVE MUSIC
Tribute bands focus on genres ranging from reggae (Bob Marley) to classic rock (The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Van Halen) to jam bands (Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers) to ’90s alternative (Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers).
On Aug. 11, Pump will pay tribute to both eras of Aerosmith from the ’70s hard rock to ’80s and ’90s pop. “People really respond to us because they don’t get to see Aerosmith that much anymore,” says bassist Frank Tassielli of Port Jefferson Station. “The band hasn’t played Long Island since 2014.”
Family cinema night features PG-rated films that get projected on an 18-by-18-foot screen on the stage backed by a professional sound system.
“People sit wherever they want. Some bring chairs, some bring blankets, or they hang out in the bleachers,” says Brian Fielding of Mobile Flicks 2 U. “Even though we are outside, once the movie starts you usually don’t hear a peep till it’s over.”
The series starts its rollout with Disney’s “Coco” on June 28, followed by sequels “Despicable Me 3” on July 5, and “Cars 3” on July 12. Other highlights include “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” on July 26; “A Wrinkle in Time” on Aug. 16, and “Star Wars: Episode VIII -- The Last Jedi” on Aug. 23.
SUNDAY: LATIN NIGHTS
Get on your feet, feel the rhythm and dance on Sundays, where there's always a crowd.
“This is the biggest celebration of Latin culture on Long Island,” says event producer Richie Valentino. “It’s a huge party.”
The evening begins with a free salsa lesson at 7 p.m. from Rhythmology of Westbury followed by a first DJ set at 8 p.m. Each week a live band will perform at 9 p.m. starting with Nexo on June 24 and Alex Sensation on July 1. Each night will close with a second DJ set at 10 p.m.
“Everyone is welcome to come down,” Valentino says. “The energy is through the roof.”
TUESDAYS: KIDS NIGHTS
Tuesdays are about family fun with entertainment geared to kids. On July 24 and 31, Tara Drouin and Katie Pearlman perform a mix of covers such as The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” plus original songs like “One Heart,” which sends a message.
“The song is about how we all look different on the outside but inside we are all the same,” says Drouin, of Bethpage. “We present a friendly, happy vibe.”
Keri Wirth headlines on Aug. 14 and 28, blending alternative and electronica on her own songs such as “Candy Apple” and “Scenario”
“I create an interactive dance club for kids,” says Wirth, of Syosset. “I give out funky glasses, beads and crazy hats.”
Other kids events include “A Big Bad Wolf Story: The Musical” on June 26, and showcases by music students from School of Rock Aug. 7, and Rock-n-Roll University Aug. 21.
MONTHLY: LINE DANCING
After a year hiatus, line dancing is returning to the bandshell. Once a month, dance instructor Marianne Taylor will teach folks how to move in unison.
“If you can count to eight, you can line dance,” says Taylor, of Bellmore. “I enjoy seeing the lightbulb moment when people watch, then say, ‘I can do that!’ and they get it.”
Taylor will be paired with country bands Quickdraw on June 27, Whiskey Road on July 11, and Southbound on Aug. 8. Her lessons start at 6:30 p.m.
“We do more than just country,” Taylor says. “We dance to Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake — that’s what gets the kids out there. Participants range from little children to senior adults.”