Perf. Arts

Music in the air
Wilson Center's Starry Nights series returns



By KRISTEN KLAHN - Special to TimeOut

June 5, 2014


BROOKFIELD - Pack up the family, bring blankets and chairs and soak up the free outdoor concerts put on by Brookfield’s Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts as it presents its Starry Nights outdoor concert series.

The concerts are performed in the Wilson Center’s backyard at 19805 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield.

This summer the center will put on a six-show series, said Jonathan Winkle, executive director of the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts. In the past, there have been as many as eight or nine performances, Winkle said.

There’s a lot to consider when planning an outdoor event.

When planning the series, which begins at 6:30 p.m. on Friday nights, the first thing the Wilson Center looks at is the audience, Winkle said.

“You have to take factors into consideration like free admission and the fact that it’s an outdoor series. Then, you have to ask: ‘What type of audience will be attending?’” he said.

Because the outdoor series utilizes many local bands, that also factors in to Winkle’s planning. The goal is to get different genres represented within the six concerts, so that there is something for everybody, he said. That means picking only the very best groups to perform at a Starry Nights concert, Winkle said.

Kicking off the series, which starts June 20, is Derek Byrne, an Ireland native who now lives in Milwaukee, Winkle said.

“He likes to play around with traditional Irish music and bluegrass gospel,” Winkle said. “He plays with the interrelationships between the two.”

Spanglish, a local group that combines salsa, merengue, rhythm and blues, Latin rock and jazz, as well as pop and funk influences, will play on June 27.

And, on July 11, the Wilson Center is bringing back a show that it put on last year, which was a huge hit with the audience, Winkle said. The Rockin’ Robins will be performing hits of the ‘50s and ‘60s with a car show to accompany the classic music.

The Starry Nights Orchestra, one of the most collaborative performances put on by the Wilson Center, hits the stage for its third year on July 18, Winkle said.

Robert J and The Most, a band from Omaha, Neb., will provide its July 25 audience with blues, rock, reggae, jazz, funk and pop influences.

The show season wraps up on Aug. 1 with the Wilson Center Big Band, a venture that’s been ongoing since 2008. It started out as an experiment, but one that has proven to be successful.

“I put the Wilson Center Big Band on during the Starry Night series to see what would happen. I hand-picked the group not knowing how people would respond,” Winkle said. “But, it has repeatedly been the first or second most popular big band performance.”

Each show is guaranteed to be upbeat, exciting and entertaining, Winkle said.

And, everyone is invited.

The concert is free - money shouldn’t hamper people’s entertainment, Winkle said.

“We don’t want to exclude people because of cost,” he said. “We’re not going to limit people because of their pocketbook. The arts are for everyone.”