MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ - Though it is early July, summer did not seem to officially come until the music started playing at Ginty Field for the Morris Township community. For on July 7th, the gazebo at Ginty Field became the stage for the first music show of the 2020 Summer Concert Series.

This concert series has organized by the Morris Township Parks & Recreation for the last 16 years, bringing along a variety of different music bands, from country, rock, jazz, soul, and big band.

“We’re happy to do whatever we can for the township and try to keep things as normal as possible,” said Samantha Hartman, from Frankfort, a recreation member for the last three-and-a-half years.“This concert series has always been something very special for the summertime. It’s a long-running tradition that everyone looks forward to.”

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Like many summer events, the concert series had been under the threat of cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, since the lockdown back in March, some things seem to be getting back to normal.

“Right from the start, we were hopeful that we could still have this,” said recreation director Bill Foelsch. “We had to give up a lot in the spring. But we have an exciting line-up and the bands are happy to be outside for once.”

Kicking off the concert series this year was The Kootz, a classic rock cover band with 23 rotating members who cover music artists across several decades, with “feel-good” like Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, John Fogerty, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Prince and The Byrds. This concert line-up included Russ Crapella (guitar/vocals, from Little Falls), Glenn Taylor (guitar/keyboards/vocals, from Caldwell), Pepe Hernandez (bass/vocals, from Oakland), and Dave Hirschberg (drums/vocals, from Teaneck).

“Being here and performing at Ginty Field is always a lot of fun,” said Crapella. “We love performing for tons of people. Morris Township is a nice place. I used to go to their steakhouse a lot!”

The Kootz have been performing at the concert series for 13 years, making them veteran performers for the summer event. And the band members were excited to be back in Morris Township, doing what they love. After all, with the pandemic cancelling all their gigs, they were just happy to bang their drums and guitar strings to a crowd of nearly 200 people, who also got to watch a few little league baseball games.

“I love Morris Township, and this is an annual rite of summer,” said Glenn Taylor. “Things have been really good nowadays. We lost about half of our shows during the lockdown. But there are happy people here and they’re starving for musical entertainment.”

At the same time, considering the pandemic, measures were taken to combat the COVID-19 threat, while enjoying the concert. Spectators not only brought their blankets and chairs, but face masks. And of course, social distancing was practiced between each group. But above all, everyone was starving for some summer fun, such as Cydni Holloway, from Chatham.

“I’ve seen The Kootz many times and it’s always fun to hear them and all bands at Ginty Field,” said Holloway. “Seeing these concerts come back in many districts. It looks like some sense of normalcy is coming back.”

Copies of the Kootz’s music albums, such as “Tales from The Endless Bus Tour of New Jersey” and “Kootleg, The Concert,” were also being sold, along with t-shirts, caps, stickers, and hoodies. There was even lip balm and hand sanitizers with the and logo on them.

The show were the summer concert series will be on July 14th, at 7:00 p.m., featuring country band October Rose, bringing their own original songs as well as cover from modern country great, such as Carrie Underwood, Brad Presley and Lady Antebellum.

To learn more about the Morris Township Parks & Recreation, and their future activities, visit the municipal website at https://www.morristwp.com/129/Parks-and-Recreation.