Party on the Plaza returns for summer

The days are longer, the air is warmer, and the Party on the Plaza returns for another season of great music.

You know summer is in full swing when the sounds of Concord's Exit 54 band can be heard on the sidewalk in front of The Wine Room in Afton Village.

Teri Reno, owner of The Wine Room, explained how the event got started.

"Party on the Plaza was the idea of the people running Afton Village," she said. "The Wine Room just helped execute this idea and carry it on from year to year. I believe it started over five years ago. We usually have around 200 people, but the last one may have been more than that."

Originally from San Diego, Reno moved to the area in 1982 so her husband, Marc, could pursue a racing career. Eventually Teri Reno and her partner, Linda McReynolds, opened The Wine Room in 2003.

"We wanted a place that people would feel comfortable learning about wine and trying different wines," she said. "So we started looking around and decided Afton Village in Concord was perfect for what we were trying to do."

The Wine Room sells more than just wine.

"Customers can sip on wine, beer, selected mixed drinks, soft drinks, iced tea or our special lemonade slushy," Reno said. "We have a great food and appetizer menu with wine and beer suggestions. The Wine Room is a combination store, bar and restaurant."

The Party on the Plaza - held on the first Friday of each month from May through October - draws families from surrounding neighborhoods to sip wine and listen to Exit 54. Singer and bass player Mike Robertson explained how the band got started.

"Back in 2006, a couple of our wives were all telling each other how their husbands like to play guitar," Robertson said. "The first time we played on the patio, the owners liked us so much they booked us for the next three years plus this year, and we have been playing the Party on the Plaza ever since.

"Mostly families come to this event, and we get a big kick out of the little ones that dance and sing along with the band."

Exit 54 has become a successful six-piece band, playing many local charity fundraisers, county school events and private parties.

"We play a lot of classic rock, some country, beach and blues music," Robertson said. "We pride ourselves that we haven't locked ourselves into only one type of music."

May's Party on the Plaza has already passed, but there are five more this year. The next one is Friday. Music starts at 6:30 p.m. and ends around 10 p.m. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy an evening of music under the stars.