Summer in the city

photo by Kevin King

The city of Beaumont has an exciting string of downtown events planned for the second half of the summer featuring a variety of music in both modern and historic venues alike.

For movie lovers who have not yet visited the Jefferson Theatre at 345 Fannin St., now is the opportunity to catch some classic movies in a beautiful and historic setting as the city presents Movie Night at the Jefferson Theatre.

Emily Wheeler, sales and marketing coordinator for the City of Beaumont Event Facilities, said opening the theater back up to the public for movie nights rekindles a tradition dating back half a century.

“Jefferson Theatre started out as a movie house,” Wheeler said. “It was built in 1927 and a lot of classic movies premiered there. It’s A Wonderful Lifepremiered at Jefferson Theatre in 1946. The director, Frank Capra, and the star, James Stewart, were both in attendance.”

With the official reopening of the theatre in March, Wheeler said the city wants to bring back some of the nostalgia that the Jefferson has created throughout the years, the summer 2014 series being the first that’s taken place since the city acquired ownership.

“When the theatre closed in 1972, for a really long time it just sat there,” she said. “We really want to bring people into the theatre. A lot of people have lived here their whole lives and have not had the opportunity to spend time in the theatre. We’re trying to create series that bring people downtown and really expose them to the beauty of this theatre.”

Friday, Aug. 15, the Movie Night at the Jefferson Theatre series will kick off the 1986 coming-of-age comedy favorite Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. In Matthew Broderick’s best-known role, he plays a high-school prankster who is always just a step ahead of authoritarian principal Edward R. Rooney, played by Jeffrey Jones. The film was one of many creative teen angst ’80s favorites by the late director, producer and screenwriter John Hughes. Other notables are The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candlesand Weird Science.

“The film has a pretty good following. We want everybody to come out, but we think it will draw a younger population that has probably never set foot in the theatre,” Wheeler said.

Tickets are $5 a person, and the city is introducing a concept made famous in metropolitan areas such as Houston and Austin: It’s serving beer and wine along with a staple of other silver screen concessions.

“With the Alamo Drafthouse concept in mind, there will be the opportunity to enjoy your favorite beverage while viewing the film,” Wheeler said. “It is definitely a first in the area.”

A second movie, title yet to be determined, is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 19, Wheeler said, adding that the city is also discussing a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Showaround Halloween as well as It’s A Wonderful Life around Christmas.

Fast-forward from an opening in 1927 to 2012, and the sleek, modern design of Beaumont’s Event Centre comes to mind. The Centre has become a popular venue for celebrations and entertainment of all types, and even offers a noontime getaway for workers downtown to enjoy its lush landscape and beautiful, geyser-like fountain.

What better place to enjoy an elegant evening by soaking in some smooth jazz and sharing a few cocktails with friends?

Jazz sensation Dean James comes to town to perform his mix of contemporary jazz, instrumental R&B, and new jazz Thursday, July 31, from 5-8 p.m. at the Event Centre, 700 Crockett St.The Jazz at the Lake event is free and open to the public, and food, beer, and wine will be available for purchase with some beer samples available as well.

“Beaumont is my home away from home,” James, who is originally from California but now resides in Houston, told the Examiner. “I have a very huge fan base in the tri-city area of Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange. I just love the ambience (of the Event Centre) and the people of Beaumont.”

James said those who haven’t heard his music before will most likely find the experience quite captivating.

“Those who hear my music for the first time usually latch on to the type of music that I do,” he said. “They can expect to hear points of the concert that are very sensual and others that are very upbeat. The audience just connects with my style of playing and the music that I do.”

James said he is currently finishing up his new album, Groovy Sax, which he hopes will release in October and is working on another project with “Big” Herb Middleton, CEO and producer of NuVybe Records, an independent record label located in Delaware.

“It’s more R&B-oriented, it’s got more vocals on it and is more upbeat than the normal ballads and mid-tempo arrangements that I perform,” James said.

Speaking of jazz, it is always a treat to witness local favorite Jimmy Simmons Band perform. Simmons and his band will also play Jazz at the Lake on Thursday, Aug. 28, from 5-8 p.m. Jazz Innovators will be featured entertainment Thursday, Sept. 25.

For those who might have a slightly different taste in music, the Skate Plaza Concert Series might be just the ticket. Local indie rockers Jenny and the Reincarnation will join Buddy B on Saturday, July 26, for the family-oriented, free event starting at 5 p.m. The Ramblin’ Boys are bringing their unique blend of Folk, punk and acoustic to the Skate Plaza on Saturday, Aug. 16.

“It’s really a summer concert series,” Wheeler said. “The kids are out of school and can be out there a lot. Sometimes there are food vendors out there. There is no alcohol and there is a lot of room out there to bring lawn chairs or a blanket and sit and watch and hang out. It is really a family-friendly event.”

Skateboarders aren’t the only wheeled warriors that can be found downtown. Rink roughhousers the Spindletop Roller Girls have found a new home in the Beaumont Civic Center and have upcoming bouts scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 9, and Saturday, Sept. 13, both at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children 6 to 12. Kids 5 and under are free. Presale tickets are available at SpindletopRollergirls.com

“It’s a great venue,” said Robbi Murphy, who serves on the Spindletop Roller Girls Board of Directors and also works as an announcer for bouts. “The stadium seating offers a great view of the track, no matter where you are. We are having lots of crowd involvement, such as poster contests for the kids and competitions during halftime.”

Murphy said fans can expect the same dedication they are accustomed to from the girls despite the change in venues.

“We have a few veterans left along with some new fierce faces. The team is training hard and honing their strategies,” she said.

This string of exciting events will continue to draw those looking for diverse entertainment downtown, Wheeler said.

“People don’t really look at downtown as something way across town that they are never involved in,” she said. “With all these activities, it brings people here. It keeps people downtown. It allows them a destination, which is the way it should be. This prompts people to want to spend their weekends downtown because there is plenty to do.”

For more information on city of Beaumont events, visit discoverbeaumont.com or call (409) 838-3435

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