Click here for the Music at the Marketplace schedule
Music at Weirs Beach has had a very, very long tradition, and the Winnipesaukee Marketplace has been carrying the flame since 1992. On Sundays, the Boardwalk Jazz Quartet brings back the familiar tunes by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and other Jazz greats whose music once graced the Winnipesaukee Garden’s grand ballroom.
The Weirs Beach Jazz series begins on the Sunday after the July 4th holiday, and ends on the next to last Sunday in August. Click here for the full schedule of jazz concerts.
HISTORY OF THE LAKES REGION CHORDSMEN
For over 60 years (from 1954 through 2019), in July & August, on Wednesday nights, you could hear the Lakes Region Chordsmen barbershoppers sing songs that would undoubtedly be familiar to those who attended concerts at the earlier Weirs Beach Music Halls. The Lake Region Chordsmen sang the old-time Barbershoppers favorites. The group consisted of about twenty singers, both old and young, and they sang their hearts out. Several members of the Chordsmen formed their own, classic Barbershopper quartets, and the quartets alternated segments of the concert with the larger group. Occasionally, larger groups of Barbershoppers from elsewhere in the state made a guest appearance, and then the combined groups sang together for an astounding wall of song.
Click here to enlarge the above barbershoppers photo
THE BOARDWALK JAZZ QUARTET
For nearly 30 years (since 1994), the Boardwalk Jazz Quartet has been playing jazz standards from the 1930′s through the 1970′s in Weirs Beach on Sundays in July and August. The group also plays arrangements of contemporary tunes and originals. The bandleader is soprano saxophonist Rob Ames. The group also features Alex Minasian on keyboards, Al Hospers on bass, and Craig Bryan on drums. Click here for a high-definition video of the Boardwalk Jazz Quartet.
THE EARLY WEIRS BEACH MUSIC HALLS
As can be seen from the above engraving, Music has been entertaining visitors to Weirs Beach since 1884!
Weirs Beach’s 1886-1902 original Music Hall at Endicott Rock Park
Weirs Beach’s 1903-1924 Music Hall on Tower Street
(click here to see a rare, color photo of the interior of the Music Hall)
IRWIN’S WINNIPESAUKEE GARDENS
Weirs Beach’s 1925-1976 Irwin’s Winnipesaukee Gardens ballroom was famous for the great big bands that swung through town. Now an arcade at the Winnipesaukee Pier. Click here to enlarge the photos below and for several bonus photos.
The rooftop sign showed a dancing couple.
An ad for the ballroom showcases some of the most famous names of the Big Band era. Some of the other big band attractions that played at Irwin’s Winnipeaukee Gardens, but not mentioned in the above advertisement:
• Benny Goodman • Nat King Cole • Guy Lombardo • Dean Hudson • Count Basie • Harry James • Tommy & Jimmy Dorsey • Glenn Miller • Sammy Kaye • Tony Brown • Glen Gray
“The Gardens had a glossy grand piano and big frame around the stage. On that frame were two mermaids on each side and King Neptune at the top” – Carole Gosselin
The 1940’s and 1950’s were the heyday of big band entertainment at the Gardens, when the place would be hopping nearly every night with elegantly clad dancers. From the mid 1960’s until the closure of the ballroom in 1976, the Gardens shifted its entertainment emphasis to rock and roll. While the few surviving famous big bands would still occasionally swing through town, the Gardens now rocked with a different beat. Some of the famous rock acts who performed there included:
Gary Pucket & The Union Gap • Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs • The Beach Boys • The Turtles • Eric Burdon & War • The Spectras
The last band to play at the Gardens before its conversion to an arcade was the big band of Harry James.