Reedy River Stage
I have to admit that it is disappointing to me how often people express total shock and disbelief when I tell them about the Reedy River Concert Series.  I am of the belief that if there is a venue that provides free entertainment in the heart of downtown Greenville at a beautiful outdoor amphitheatre then it is something that everyone should know about. 

Live outdoor entertainment in downtown is much more popular than it was when I was younger. I remember when Downtown Alive by the Hyatt was revolutionary for Downtown Greenville. Now almost every downtown in the Upstate from Greenville to Easley to Anderson has a night (or nights) dedicated to live entertainment. I am of the opinion that the Reedy River Concert Series is the best all around pick of all these options.

Reedy River
The Reedy River Concert Series runs every Wednesday night for the duration of the summer. It is located at The Peace Center Amphitheatre right beside the canal with a backdrop of The Hampton Inn, The Lazy Goat, and “Artist’s Row”.  First and foremost I must mention that the cost of the concert is free. You are required to purchase a $1 wristband to drink alcohol but this is an optional cost dependent on how you intend to enjoy your evening. There are no hidden costs for food and beverages once you enter the amphitheatre as you bring these items in yourself.

Yes, you did read this correctly. 

For the cost of no more than one dollar you can listen to live music while you have a picnic with your friends and family in one of the most scenic urban settings you are likely to find anywhere. In these trying economic times, bargains do not get much better than that.

Once you are settled into your picnic blanket or “chair-in-a-bag” you find yourself in the perfect setting for an inexpensive date night or mid-week family outing. The venue is small enough to view everything from anywhere so children have a little extra freedom to stray beyond their normal boundaries and enjoy the concert the way only a child can. Toddlers are often found doing their version of dancing in front of the stage and older kids tend to throw footballs and chase each other around performing a sort of adolescent mosh pit.

The setting and sense of relaxation the Reedy River Concert Series provides are almost enough to make the music inconsequential to the experience. The promoters of the event do not rest on these laurels, however, and are committed to bringing the quality, and maybe even better, the variety that a concert series of this nature deserves.

I have spent the past four summers attending The Reedy River Concert Series and I have seen as many genres of music in this single venue as I have in my 20+ years as a compulsive concertgoer.  From classic rock favorites to folk/country soloists, to jam bands to gospel choirs, the promoters ensure that they provide something for every musical taste bud.  For example, in terms of genre, the remaining lineup for this season reads like this: Americana, Acoustic Rock, Reggae, Jazz, and Blues… how is that for a musical smorgasbord?  

I started attending this event with my mother and her friends and co-workers four summers ago. They sit in the same spot every week and I do not believe they have missed a Wednesday night since before I started joining them. My wife and I enjoy a glass of wine or cold microbrew with our sandwiches while Ivan gorges on whatever meal we provide for him so he can quickly move on to the snacks and candy his grandmother and her friends see fit to shower upon him. From here he is quick to join the other kids in running around and taking in a taste of family summer fun that I can only hope he will carry with him into adulthood. 

There is a sense of relaxation and family bonding in this setting that cannot be found at other downtown music festivals. I have attended Greenville’s Downtown Alive and Friday Night Jazz plenty of times over the years and although I have always enjoyed myself, some part of me felt the sense of being part of a cattle herd in a fenced-in range. I am also a regular visitor of Downtown Sounds in Anderson which takes the sensation and makes it touch more institutional by positioning this herd in front of the city’s court house. The looming shadow of government does not spell “relaxing fun” the way green grass, a river and fountains do.

All of these events offer a great opportunity to spend time with friends and family while taking in some quality entertainment.  The Reedy River Concert Series raises the bar, however, by offering the lowest cost option in the most scenic surroundings. Midweek breaks from the Monday through Friday grind could not any get better than this.