By Joel Hall
Reggie Ward, lead guitarist for the rhythm and blues group, "The S.O.S. Band," will open this year's Riverdale Summer Concert Series.
Ward, in addition to the Atlanta-based ensemble, "The 911 Band," will perform this weekend in the first of three, free concerts scheduled for this summer.
The concert will take place on Saturday, May 22, at 7 p.m., on the grounds of Riverdale City Hall, located at 6690 Church St. Lonnie Ballard, assistant city manager and director of community, cultural affairs, and leisure services for the city, said the concert series was started in 2008, as a way create unity, and showcase the city.
"The first year was part of the [city's] centennial celebration in 2008, so we just continued it from there," Ballard said. "We want to give residents a chance to get together. It's a form of community-building. It's also a form of affordable family entertainment.
"Music is the universal language, so for the most part, people enjoy gathering around music and musicians," he said. "It's really helping Riverdale to forge ahead in becoming a destination in the region ... a place that people would like to visit."
Ballard said the city has concerts planned for the month of June, and July, but that the dates and artists have not been finalized.
Ward, a veteran guitarist who has played, on and off, with The S.O.S. Band since the 1970s, will perform on Saturday with his own group, "The Reggie Ward Project," a keyboard, drums, and guitar trio.
He said he will perform songs from his recently-released solo album, "Say You Will," as well as other popular jazz, and rhythm and blues standards.
"As far as I know, I've never played [in Riverdale]," Ward said. "It's an honor for me to be asked to do it, period. I think anything to enhance the city and bring more people ... that brings more revenue. That's good for the city, especially bringing the arts back. A lot of cities have just forgotten about the importance of arts and music. You have to give them things that are good for their soul. I say hats off to them."
According to Ward's biography, he also has worked with recognizable artists, such as the late jazz musician, Jimmy Smith, Charlie Wilson, of the Gap Band, drummer, Sonny Emory, and rhythm and blues singers, Chante Moore and Kenny Lattimore.
Following Ward's performance, will be "The 911 Band." According to Ballard, the rhythm and blues group is a staple of the "Wednesday WindDown" music series at Centennial Olympic Park.
Ballard said the band will perform a variety of "Top 40" rhythm and blues tunes.
"There are a lot of well-known artists in the Atlanta area that already have a following," Ballard said. "It's great when we can show off the talents of artists right here in our backyard."
Ballard encouraged visitors to bring lawn chairs to the concert. For more information about the concert series, call (770) 997-8989.