Block party brings crowds to downtown Fall River

Block party brings crowds to downtown Fall River

FALL RIVER — Some nights beg to be called perfect. Thursday was one of them.

The Narrows Center improved on perfection with a summer block party held in the center of South Main Street downtown.

More than 1,000 people gathered to see the bands Girls, Guns & Glory followed by Buckwheat Zydeco on a stage set up in the middle of the street, right between the Fall River Justice Center and Cafe Arpeggio.

The 300 folding chairs lined up before the stage were filled before Girls, Guns & Glory began their set at 6:30 p.m. Farther back, the Taphouse Grille, Adagio and the Cultural Center all had tables set up on the asphalt and were serving patrons in the middle of South Main Street.

“We’ll get 1,000 people here tonight,” said Patrick Norton, the Narrows’ executive director. “Last year, when we did this, it was about 100 degrees and people turned out. Today, it is perfect. You know, the second year is always easier than the first.”

The show produced an odd mix: Many regular patrons of the Narrows were making their way up the hill to South Main Street for the first time, Norton said. Lawyers and courthouse staff still wore their business clothes and mingled with others at the show wearing cut-offs and T-shirts.

There was also the parade of worn resumes, T-shirts from interesting places and times: Eric Lindell Tour, New Orleans, 2012; WOMR Festival, 1999; Myrtle Beach Bike Week, 2013.

Residents of the Academy Building, the Hudner Apartments and 181 S. Main St. turned out, bringing their own beach chairs and coolers.
The event cost $12,000 to stage, the cost split by five sponsors: People, Incorporated; the Narrows, BayCoast Bank, BankFive and Bristol County Savings Bank, Norton said.

“The city has also been a big part of this,” Norton said. “They have the DPW here and a lot of help from the police.”

In the first set, singer Ward Hayden said the band just finished a tour that took them from Bangor to Boise and back to Boston. They proved their chops as road warriors when the show’s sound system cut out and guitarist Chris Hersch and bass player Paul Dillay played an extended musical bridge, the sound carried by the band’s own amplifiers on stage. They improvised until the show sound came back on.

It brought the crowd to life, earning the band the loudest applause of the night.

It was Fall River at its best, Norton said.

“I’ve spoken with a lot of people,” he said. “It seems like half the people are coming to downtown for the first time. That has to be good for the city.”