When Peter Lesniak of the IWV Concert Association spoke to the Rotary Club of China Lake on Wednesday he had a question: what sort of musical acts do the people of Ridgecrest want to see?

The concert association was nearly shut down recently after 71 years of serving the area. Public support brought it back but the group is always looking for acts that will fill the venue and delight the crowd.

Lesniak said the most popular recent act, by far, was a Beatles tribute band. Also well-attended was a John Denver tribute performance and a Johnny Cash tribute. However, it would be a mistake to conclude that the people of Ridgecrest are only interested in tribute bands, he said. Instead he thinks audiences are looking for identifiable forms of music — they want to know what they are going to see.

“The acts that seem to get a little more popular are those that have recognition,” he said. He added he is interested in getting the word out and increasing interest in the upcoming acts. 

He said the association is working with the Chamber of Commerce and the new community calendar.

Complicating the issue is the fact that acts must be chosen six months in advance, contracts signed and promotional materials prepared. Acts performing in the past range from the Celtic Tenors to Quartetto Gelato mixed ensemble, Brazilian Guitar and the Night Blooming Jazzman.

“The diversity of the music is very interesting,” he said.

Lesniak is one of the newest members of the concert association.He and his wife joined last year out of concern after reading in the newspaper that the association was in danger of disbanding.

“I thought maybe if I could get the word out about what this group does we could spark up some membership,” he said.

The program was established in 1947 and incorporated in 1952. The popular student education program was adopted in 1980. This has included free concerts for local students.

Events are at the Parker Performing Arts Center. Lesniak said the association hopes to do some fundraising for sound system improvements, since the venue has been around since the 1970s.

He repeatedly emphasized that the concert association wants feedback from the community about what they would like to see.

Challenges have included an aging population and membership. Lesniak said he is open to any insights about how to recruit new members.

“With the aging members, we are ending the 1960s and getting into the 1970s and 1980s for  ‘oldies’ musical acts, he said with a laugh.

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