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Summerfest season coming to a close, three concerts remain

July 25, 2014 | By Peter Spotts

AGAWAM – The Agawam SummerFest is down to its final three performances and the next group on stage is playing in their hometown.
Steppin’ Out has been together for more than 15 years and will be making their first performance at SummerFest July 30 on Veterans’ Green at 7 p.m.
“We’ve lived in town for awhile. We’ve played everywhere in New England from Nantucket to Westchester County to Yankee Candle, but we’ve never played in our own town,” Troy Slocum, the band’s keyboardist and vocalist, said.
Mayor Richard Cohen recommended the band based on their performance at a local establishment.
“[Steppin’ Out] is a really fantastic band and I enjoyed their performance locally at Kaptain Jimmies,” Cohen said. “I recommended them to [Parks and Recreation Director Chris] Sparks. We’re always looking for local bands who haven’t played [in SummerFest] before.
He added, “The band has been voted one of the top performers in Connecticut [and] they’re extremely versatile in what they play. I think they’re a wonderful addition to our line up of summer performances.”
Sparks is responsible for scheduling the performances each year.
“SummerFest has been going on in Agawam since 1997 when the Cultural Council took the lead and in 2009 Parks and Recreation began running the event,” Sparks explained. “I choose the bands each year, secure the funding for the concerts, book the bands, sound, and work hand-in-hand with the Cultural Council, Rotary Club, and Lions Club.”
Sparks continued, “We try to rotate bands who’ve played in the past and are community favorites with new bands. The first few years there were no repeat bands [but now] there are a few things that happen every year. Enter the Haggis has been a staple since 2006 and KIX 100.9 Country Music Night has been a staple since 2008.
“[Steppin’ Out] was referred by a few people, including Mayor Cohen, who saw them play locally and thought they would be a good addition to the summer line up,” he added.
The band has six members including lead vocalist Darlene Leclerc, saxophonist Doug Jones, singer and bassist Tom Sitaro, singer and guitarist John Henry Langley, drum and vocalist Gene Tortorici, and Slocum.
The group plays a wide variety of music ranging from the 1950s to the present including hits from Frank Sinatra, Etta James, Michael Jackson, and Bruno Mars.
“You can’t please everyone playing one genre of music,” Slocum said. “We do everything because we’re just trying to entertain a wide demographic. We’re good at what we do and we try to cover all these bases,” Slocum said. “We’ve been around awhile. We’ve made our living doing a lot of these corporate and private functions.”
Some of the functions include the University of Connecticut’s Hoops of Hope and a fundraiser for former President Bill Clinton.
Steppin’ Out has received many accolades, including Connecticut Magazine’s Best Dance Band Award in 2004.
Those interested in learning more about the band and upcoming performances can visit www.steppinoutonline.com.
For additional information about SummerFest, which concludes Aug. 13, visit www.agawamcc.org/html/SummerFest.htm.

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