As the summer season of concerts gets underway, a Father's Day tradition hits the 25-year mark and a new act debuts.

Just Jazz Live will take the Band Shell stage for the first time this evening, and on Sunday, the Ashland Area Community Concert Band will play its 25th Father's Day show.

Both concerts begin at 8 p.m. on their respective evenings.

Leonard Salvo once again takes the baton for the Ashland Area Community Concert Band.

The set list for the Father's Day concert includes classic marches, such as “A Festival Prelude” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” along with selections from the musical “Beauty and the Beast” and “Dances of a Shimmering Spirit,” a piece commissioned by the Ashland University band in memoriam of Christina Lattanzi.

“Basically we do a wide variety of music — some serious things, some lighter pieces, classic band literature and some contemporary music,” Salvo said. “For this program, it will be a little bit lighter and more easy listening.”

During this year's concert, he will honor the five members who have played in the band all 25 years. They are Carolyn E. Dandalides of Ashland; Salvo’s wife, Suzanne Guisasola Salvo of Ashland; Dennis Tuttle of Mount Vernon; Pat Tuttle of Mount Vernon; and Brad Wiedenhamer of Ashland.

The band members come from all walks of life and vary in age from high schoolers to retired senior citizens.

“This is sort of a big year for us, to actually make it to 25 when you didn't even know if you were going to make it past the first one,” Salvo said.

It all started in 1993, when Salvo moved to the area, and discovered Ashland lacked a community band.

Plus, his wife was playing with a community band in Medina at the time and had grown weary of the commute.

After consulting with several local school band directors and gauging their interest, Salvo put out a notice in the newspaper, looking for interested musicians. He ended up with a crowd of 60.

Salvo, who is now retired, was the director of bands at Ashland University, and he turned the group into a class to entice college students.

“It worked out great,” Salvo said. “I can't tell you how many people I've had in the group in the 25 years we've been doing this.”

Most of the musicians come from a close proximity, but they also hail from as far away as Medina, Brunswick, Mount Vernon and Cortland. 

Even though vocalist Kelly Knowlton is one of Ashland’s own and has graced the Band Shell stage before, this evening will mark the first time Just Jazz Live has played there.

“Of course everyone in Ashland knows Kelly Knowlton and her wonderful voice,” said Judith Webster, band shell coordinator. “So we're really excited about this group.”

The feeling is mutual for the band.

“I've been coming to shows at the Band Shell since I was a little girl and I've had the opportunity to play on stage a couple of times before with various groups, but this is the first time that this particular group is having the opportunity to perform, so that's pretty exciting,” Knowlton said.

Expect to hear songs tonight from the Great American Songbook, by composers such George Gershwin or Cole Porter – think Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Dean Martin’s style.

They also play a few “wildcards”, like pop crossovers, Knowlton said.

The band's core lineup includes another vocalist, Joel Claypool, along with Tom Blair on saxophone and flute, Britt Reed on guitar and Tom McCartney on saxophone and flute.

The group usually performs as a three to four person ensemble, playing around Cleveland, Columbus and Lexington, but tonight, the band is bringing in other area musicians to make it an eight-piece group.

“We play in different combinations, just depending on who it is that is asking us to play, and what they're looking for,” Knowlton said. “So it's not very often that we get to have everyone involved in the group, like all in the same place at the same time. So we're pretty excited about that.”

For a full band schedule, visit justjazzlive.com.

The Band Shell summer series continues on June 21 with 7 Bridges, an Eagles tribute band.

“I heard them at a conference, and I was so impressed with them, with their singing,” Webster said. “They're really faithful to the Eagles' sound. And they all sing. It's like five-part harmony.”

Tribute groups tend to draw the biggest crowds, Webster said.

With the Band Shell's limited budget, booking acts can be tricky, which is why the concerts are held on Thursdays and Sundays, Webster said.

“We can often get them at a reduced rate if, say, they have a Saturday night gig or a Friday night gig somewhere not too far — within 100 miles or a couple hundred miles or so,” Webster said. “It's kind of called block scheduling, and that's how I do get some of the more expensive groups is through that system.”

Later that week, on June 24, is Never Surrender, a group likely to draw a younger crowd, Webster said.

“They're just a rowdy rock band,” Webster said. “And so we're hoping everyone enjoys them. It's a little bit different from what we've had.”

Pops in the Park, featuring the Ashland Symphony Orchestra, also brings out a large audience every summer. The concert will fall on July 1 this year.

On July 4 itself, the U.S. Air Force Band of Flight will play the Band Shell.

Plus, acts that were previously popular with the Ashland area crowd are making return appearances, such as The Fitzgeralds on July 26 and The Diamond Project on Aug. 2, Webster said.

“I'm really excited about the season,” Webster said. “We always try to do a variety.”