By Hugh Fisher
The weather was perfect once again and the crowd full of energy when Too Much Sylvia returned to Village Park on Saturday night.
About 4,000 people gathered under blue skies to hear the classic rock and pop quartet whose concerts are favorites. Too Much Sylvia has played three years in a row in Village Park, in addition to concerts throughout the region.
“It’s great to be out here, very relaxing,” said Derick Franklin of Kannapolis, who brought his wife, Hope, and their three children to the concert.
Shaelyn, age 5, Josh, age 7 and Jayden, 3, sat in the shade on a blanket with their folks nearby, enjoying the music.
It was the first time the Franklins have come to a concert in Village Park. “We just thought we’d bring the kids out,” said Hope. “It’s awesome.”
Throughout the summer of 2007, in addition to the many Kannapolis residents, the city’s free summer concerts have attracted an ever-larger number of people from surrounding cities. Saturday’s show was no exception.
“We’ve seen them several times and we’ve come to a number of concerts here,” said Gary Rhodes, who brought wife Scottie and son David from Salisbury for the concert.
Susan Hatcher of Charlotte is still new to the area. “I moved here from Atlanta, and I’m trying to get out and about,” she said. “This is my first concert here.”
Her sister, Judy Sapielak, and granddaughter, Kayla Shoffner, came to the show with Hatcher. They’re Village Park regulars.
“It’s better than TV,” Sapielak said. “It’s just nice sitting out here.” She said that friends of the family often come out and enjoy the shows with them.
The band’s blend of favorites from more than four decades of rock and roll history kept a steady stream of people dancing on the lawn near the stage.
As the moon rose over the park, the band paid tribute to America by asking the crowd to stand for a rendition of Lee Greenwood’s hit, “God Bless the USA.”
Seventeen years in the business have given Too Much Sylvia plenty of experience pleasing crowds, and drummer Don Leonard says he’s come to enjoy the annual Kannapolis concert.
“I’ve been looking forward to this all summer,” Leonard said.
The band has played outdoor concerts this year in Concord, Harrisburg and Mount Pleasant, in addition to travels throughout the Southeast.
“We play anywhere between northern Florida, Georgia and Virginia,” Leonard said.
“We’re the luckiest guys in the world, especially me,” said Rick Lee, who plays keyboards and supplies vocals. Lee’s band, Sugar Creek, gained both local and national fame in the 1980s, and Too Much Sylvia still draws fans who’ve known Lee since those days.
“We get to make people happy,” Lee said. “I can’t think of anything more fun.”
Over the years, Too Much Sylvia has built a repertoire numbering hundreds of hit songs by artists ranging from Santana to KC and the Sunshine Band, James Taylor to Michael Jackson.
“I’m not saying we keep them all,” Lee said, “but because the band has been so stable, we’ve got 200 songs on the list.”
That gives the band a lot of flexibility to play what an audience wants to hear and ó maybe more importantly ó to answer requests.
The result is a great experience for everybody. The band members genuinely enjoy their job, especially when that job brings them to Kannapolis.
“It’s a real audience here,” said bass player and vocalist Eddie Howie, who contrasted it with private parties where the band is “sort of off to the side.”
“These people come to listen,” said Steve Long, vocalist and guitar player.
And the fans of Too Much Sylvia keep asking for more.
“The people we grew up with bring their kids to the show,” Lee said. “The kids run and play and listen to the music. What more can you ask for?”
Contact Hugh Fisher at 704-933-3450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.