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Nashua Celebrates the Arts with Downtown Music Festival

A gathering crowd watching a stage set up in the middle of the street in Nashua
Tina Forbes

Nashua saw the second installment of its premier ‘Downtown Music Festival’ with a nineties music night July 21.

Ryan Callahan is wearing a large white cowboy hat and leather jacket. As a version of Tom Petty’s “Free Falling” plays, he walks through the crowd talking to everyone. Callahan moved to Nashua from Dallas, and says the city could use more events like this one.

They need it, it makes the downtown more presentable—it gives it the attention it deserves. Nashua’s a great city for this kind of culture and I love it.

The live music series was developed by the nonprofit organization Great American Downtown. The group has been striving to feature more arts and music in Nashua. The organization also presents the Taste of Downtown, Holiday Stroll, and the Sunday Farmer’s Market.

Rebecca Dixon is the group’s Executive Director. She says its goal is to create a more vibrant downtown. 

It’s making things happen during the summer…we experience a little bit of a slowdown in the summer in downtown, and the more we can bring people out and have them experience a fun night downtown they might find a shop they haven’t been in before or a restaurant they’d like to try. Just familiarize folks with the downtown and get people out and have a fun night.

The Downtown Music Festival includes three concerts over three months. Dixon says that ‘Country Fest North,’ the first installment of the Downtown Music Festival series in June, went well with about 400 people turning out.

This Saturday’s ‘80's Rock Show’ will be the final concert.

We do predict that to be the heaviest turnout because of the eighties music’s going to be a lot of fun, we’re having a Bon Jovi tribute band, and a Journey tribute band, so I expect it’s going  to be a good night to rock out.

Last month’s theme was nineties music. Matt Jackson and his band played an eclectic mix of nineties music, oldies, current hits, and original songs to the gathering audience. 

Sarah Roy of Nashua was at the show with her family and little boy, who brought along his blue ukulele. Roy says they look for opportunities to head downtown.

We try to, whenever we can. It’s a good way to keep him entertained.

And that’s exactly what Great American Downtown is going for: attracting residents and families to the city’s arts and culture scene. 

Ryan Callahan says he spends as much time downtown as he can, and is already planning to attend ‘80’s Rock Night.’

I might scare a few people away with my costume…long hair, got a radio on my side, pizza box, pizza slice in my hand and a radio on my shoulder—eighties, New York-style.

Dixon says the festival attracted more than 400 people for ‘90’s Night’—she says now the goal is to keep people coming downtown.

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