Music on the Half Shell returned to Roseburg Tuesday evening, celebrating its 30th season. Kicking off the eight weeks of free concerts, the Portland-born band Pink Martini performed at Stewart Park, drawing a crowd of hundreds.

“One of the event’s philosophies over the years has been to bring music to the community that they wouldn’t normally go listen to,” Kelly Leonard, committee member and media liaison for Music on the Half Shell, said. “We are one of very few places that has not raised prices in 30 years. We are still that same price — zero.”

In 1994, Thomas Lauderdale formed Pink Martini, a band of a dozen musicians, spanning genres from classical to jazz. With songs in over 25 languages, the “little orchestra” has traveled all around the world performing, according to their website.

“They are a huge crowd favorite,” Leonard said, referring to Pink Martini. “This is a world-class known entity at this point and the fact that they have a soft spot in their hearts for us, we love it.”

Colorful blankets reserved spots since early morning and a sea of people covered the grassy hill in front of the stage. Laughter and chatter filled the air as the audience waited for Pink Martini to take the stage. Jewel, a Shih Tzu, sat in a purple stroller next to her owner, apparently a lover of people watching, which this event is made for.

The emcee introduced a dance competition, describing a move from the late 1970s. Katie Sellars jumped up, danced to the YMCA and was called to the stage to pick up her prize.

“I am a dancer, so when he said it was dance trivia I was like ‘I’m ready,’” Sellars said.

The event’s opening night drew a crowd of hundreds, spanning all age groups. When Pink Martini took the stage, the crowd cheered and groups of people began to dance in the designated area off to the side of the stage.

“We love to play Hollywood Bowl and Music on the Half Shell,” Lauderdale said while introducing the band.

Lead singer China Forbes took the stage in a bright red dress and opened the concert singing “Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love,” many of the audience joining in. She was joined on stage by over 10 other musicians, some of who rotated throughout the set. Edna Vazquez sang a number of songs as well.

The band performed songs in multiple languages including English, Spanish, French and Korean. Some songs were clear crowd favorites, such as “Lilly” which Forbes said was written about the love affair between her dog and Lauderdale’s dog.

While the event is certainly about the musicians who play, many spectators say they attend the event regardless of whether or not it is a band they recognize. For many, Music on the Half Shell is an annual summer tradition.

Kathy McIntyre moved to Roseburg in 1994, just years after the event first started, and has been coming to the summer concerts ever since.

As a free event hosting much of the greater Roseburg community, a strong team of volunteers is necessary. Melody Rogers has been volunteering for the past few years, coordinating the bucket brigade that passes around orange buckets to collect donations. According to Leonard, most of the money collected goes to the musicians themselves.

For Rogers, her love of music first brought her to the Music on the Half Shell concerts as a spectator.

“I’ve been to over 400 concerts, it’s kind of my gig. I’m a dancer, too,” Rogers said. “So I love mingling the two and when I moved here in 2015, it became part of my summer tradition.”

With seven weeks to go, Music on the Half Shell has a lineup of musicians from all over the world, covering a wide variety of genres.

Nika Bartoo-Smith is a Snowden Intern for The News-Review, she can be reached at nsmith@nrtoday.com.

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