AUGUSTA — Two riverfront concerts, coming on the heels of this weekend’s Kennebec River Day and Kennebec River Brewfest in Augusta, both will benefit the Colonial Theater and perhaps even provide a glimpse into the kind of touring acts a reborn theater could draw to its long-abandoned stage.

Organizers hope the upcoming events will bring crowds to the Kennebec River and downtown Augusta this summer to check out some live music by local bands. Maine’s well-known Mallett Brothers Band and nationally touring Americana alternative-country band Dustbowl Revival will play at the waterfront.

Mayor David Rollins said 100 percent of ticket sales from both events will go to help with the ongoing effort to restore and reopen the Colonial Theater.

“This is our first opportunity to bring some really higher-level cultural events to the downtown district,” Rollins said. “We’re able to attract a leading band in Maine, The Mallett Brothers, and a group attracting a lot of attention nationally that is highly regarded and are at the top of the alt-country charts.”

The Augusta riverfront fests get going Saturday with Kennebec River Day at Mill Park and Kennebec River Brewfest, both of which are part of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce-organized Whatever Family Festival.

Those festivities take place at Mill Park, just north of the city’s downtown, and include a day full of activities for all ages, ranging from numerous free family-friendly demonstrations, games, and performances in the park, to the inaugural Kennebec River Brewfest, under the pavilion in Mill Park. Brewfest is for people 21 or older and will feature the beers of a dozen different breweries, many of them local, for a ticket price of $20 in advance or $25 at the door.

The events Saturday at Mill Park are expected to get underway at 11 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m.

The Air National Guard Band of the Northeast will play two sets of music in the afternoon, according to Katie Doherty, president of the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce.

This weekend’s events will be followed by two concerts on the riverfront in July. The proceeds of both will be used to help fund the restoration of the historic but long-vacant Colonial Theater, which is a short distance upriver from the planned new temporary outdoor concert spot. The two concerts are planned to be held at a new location, in the Front Street parking lot alongside the river, toward the northern end of the parking lot, which is just below the downtown section of Water Street, on a portable stage to be set up near Cushnoc Brewing Co., which is a sponsor and operator of the beer garden for the concerts.

The Mallett Brothers Band plays Friday, July 6, taking the stage at 8 p.m. with opening act Bandwich beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $20 online or $25 at the gate.

The second show, by California-based Dustbowl Revival, is scheduled for July 26, beginning at 7 p.m., with tickets also costing $20 online or $25 at the gate.

Officials hope the theater, once restored and reopened, will be home to performing arts and other events and be a draw to the city’s downtown.

Michael Hall, executive director of the Augusta Downtown Alliance and a member of the Colonial Theater’s board of directors, said the two bands playing the benefit concerts for the Colonial could serve as examples for the types of acts the theater itself someday could host.

“It’s outdoors, in a beautiful setting, you’ve got Cushnoc doing the beer, Lisa’s Legit Burritos setting up a food tent, lots of festivities. It’s going to be a great time, and it’s all for the Colonial Theater,” Hall said of the two Front Street concerts. “And these represent the caliber of shows the Colonial Theater hopes to eventually bring.”

Hall hopes all three events will help show off, and bring visitors to, downtown Augusta. He anticipates downtown will get some spillover from Saturday’s events just up Water Street in Mill Park.

Doherty said one attraction, horse-drawn wagon rides, will bring people to Mill Park from downtown parking locations, which she said would help make a connection between the park and downtown, showing visitors the restaurants and shops and other amenities there.

Dustbowl Revival, of whom the lead singer, Liz Beebe, is from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and attended school at Gould Academy in Bethel, comes to Augusta through an unusual connection.

Rollins said three years ago he, Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, and some of their family members were vacationing in Austin, Texas, and caught a performance by Dustbowl Revival, and were impressed by the musicians’ talent. Upon learning of their shared connections, with Beebe, to Maine, they began talking, and the Mainers mentioned the effort to revive the Colonial Theater. They exchanged contact information and discussed the band playing in Maine. This year the band’s manager called Rollins to say the band was playing at a bluegrass festival in Hiram in July and would be interested in playing at the Colonial. Rollins said the theater is not yet renovated nor ready to host a concert but asked if the band members would be interested in playing an outdoor concert, to benefit the theater. They were, so the date was set.

Tickets for the two concerts are being sold online through Eventbrite and can be found on the Colonial Theater’s website at www.augustacolonialtheater.org/events/.

In the event of rain, Saturday’s Whatever Family Festival events will be held at the Augusta Civic Center, but the brewfest will still be at the pavilion.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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