Soulful flute music and sultry vocals from the ensemble Shades of Blue blended with the sound of running water in the golden evening light one Monday night at Tidal Falls Preserve in Hancock. A harbor seal frolicked in the rapids where Taunton and Frenchman bays meet.
At the wildly scenic preserve, owned by Frenchman Bay Conservancy, warm and cool drinks flowed — like the incoming tide that causes the flow of water there to “reverse” — in the picnic area where more than 250 picnicked and listened to live blues music.
Called Monday Music, Frenchman Bay Conservancy hosts a free series of outdoor concerts Monday evenings from 6:30 to 8 through July and August at the Tidal Falls Preserve. The park is located off Route 1. Concert-goers, depending on which direction they are coming from, take the Eastside Road right before or after the Hancock-Sullivan Bridge.
“It’s a relaxing, fun time, particularly on a night like this. After all the rain we’ve had, it’s great to bring the family out here,” Corea resident Michael Greenwood said, taking in Monday Music with his family and friends visiting from Canada and Scotland.
Shades of Blue, a Castine-based blues/jazz group, opened the 2016 Monday Music series. This July evening, the family band includes vocalist/guitarist Juliane Gardner, Chris Poulin, vocals and flute, and their 11-year-old son West on snare drum and 14-year-old daughter Tambre on keyboard.
Shades of Blue has played four times at Tidal Falls.
“This is one of the coolest gigs,” Gardner said. “You have this incredible Maine summer weather and cool breeze. It’s really sweet, because people come with their families to celebrate winter’s over. The sound carries over the water, so it’s just a place that is really beautiful.”
In its 20th year, Frenchman Bay Conservancy’s holdings encompass 7,000 acres and 55 properties ranging from the newly opened Taft Point Preserve in West Gouldsboro and the Schoodic Connector Trail linking Route 1 and Schoodic Mountain in Sullivan.
The Monday Night concert series is among the nonprofit land trust’s free public activities to give back to the community. Concert-goers can drop a donation in various lobster pots scattered about the park.
Monday Night has made Tidal Falls even more popular as a gathering place for townspeople, summer residents, conservancy members and others.
“Sometimes we connect with people we haven’t seen since last summer,” Hancock summer resident Beverly Bigelow said.
Bigelow was among those sitting on blankets or at picnic tables, eating light summer fare like watermelon and pasta salad and enjoying Shades of Blue’s music.
Those who didn’t bring food lined up at the on-site vendor Thyme Traveler’s stand for dishes such as crab rolls and fish tacos.
“Doesn’t she have a lovely voice?” Zsuzsanna Gurdonyi asked her friends, referring to singer Juliane Gardner. Everyone agreed as they sipped Milestone Chardonnay and nibbled green olives, cheese and crackers. Gurdonyi calls herself a Mad Hungarian, but the mental health therapist brings her clients here for the tranquility. “I love the waterfalls,” she said.
Chris Poulin sang a sweet rendition of “My Girl” with his son West. Tambre joined in on keyboard and the three sang an a cappella rendition of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
While Shades of Blue performed, kids danced, kicked a soccer ball or explored the rocky beach.
“The kids love searching for treasures,” Gillian Urquhart said as her 6-year-old daughter Arwen tugged her along by the arm while on vacation from Aberdeen, Scotland.
As if on cue, the bugs rushed everyone from the park after the last song like bar bouncers at closing time. Everyone swatted mosquitoes and stowed away their picnic baskets until next week.