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Sounds of summer

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ON THE LAWN:Audience members gather to hear the gospel group Breaking Bread at Hutchins Commons in Gas City on Monday.
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GET UP:Breaking Bread performs "Get Up in Jesus' Name" during their concert at Hutchins Commons in Gas City on Monday.

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@chronicle-tribune.com

GAS CITY -- Concerts on the Lawn made their July debut on Monday night outside the Gas City Town Hall, where residents set up their lawn chairs to enjoy the smooth music and positive message. 

Bob Lennens has organized musical groups to perform in Gas City for years. He said Mayor Larry Leach “got the ball rolling” a few years ago with the idea of bringing gospel groups in every week to Gas City.

“The idea is to continue offering activities throughout the week in Gas City for people to come out and enjoy,” Lennens said.

Lennens, of Fairmount, got involved in music through connections he’s made performing once a month in his hometown. He said a friend in Tennessee lets him know when musical groups are making their way north and might drive by Gas City.

"Bands rarely make time to perform on Monday nights, so that makes for a great opportunity here," he said. 

Ranging from local groups and solo singers to some more well-known artists, every Monday night through the end of August musical groups will perform in the Hutchins Commons on Main Street in between the Town Hall and Gas City Public Library for free.

Lennens said Jim Sheldon, musically known as The Positive Cowboy, was a big hit in his June 18 performance in Gas City, followed by the Heaven Bound Band before the Fourth of July holiday. Continuing the series last night was gospel band Breaking Bread, from Gas City. Made up of five members, the group tries not to specialize in a specific style of music. Jeff Rennaker, a performer in Breaking Bread, said they instead try to offer something for everyone.

“We’ll play anything from contemporary Christian to hymns, as long as it has a good message,” he said.

Group member Lester Jeffries said they have even written some original songs, two of which they performed on Monday night.

“Our goal here is to provide a means to share the gospel with people who wouldn’t normally hear it,” Jeffries said.

To help spread their message, they sometimes employ a preaching puppet they fondly named Gus, who Jeffries said is the ideal candidate to reaching kids and entertaining adults as well.

“They really get a kick out of him,” he said. "It was too hot to bring him out tonight, but the people love Gus."

Rennaker said whether they’re using Gus or simply talking into the mic, even the smallest of comments could change someone’s life.

“You never know. A song, the words, a gesture, just something you said could really resonate with someone and could be all it takes for them to want to join and worship,” Rennaker said. “If someone leaves here with a smile on their face, we did our job.”

Lennens said that the Monday night concerts are always free, but an offering is taken up to help the bands to pay for any expenses.

"By bringing more people through here, especially more well known folks, people will start thinking of Gas City when it comes to going to concerts," he said. 

The next concert is next Monday at 7 p.m., and will feature Men of Mercy, a vocal gospel group.