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July 3, 2014

Music in the air

Maudslay Arts Center hosts 22nd annual concert series

For 22 years, music has been keeping alive a corner of Maudslay State Park — in more ways than one.

The concerts in the Maudslay Arts Center’s summer series not only fill the space with crowds and sounds each weekend, they also raise money to maintain the outbuildings and landscaping.

“My idea has always been to bring the living arts, the performing arts,” said Nick Costello Sr., who founded the Newburyport center in 1992 with Jim Gaines and former Mayor Edward Molin. “People don’t really see that anymore. There’s nothing like live music and watching the performers.”

Costello organized and booked the acts for the first concert series and continued to do so for more than a decade before handing over the reins to son Nick Costello Jr., executive director of the arts center.

Costello Sr. still serves as president of the board of directors and remains very involved, along with wife Cynthia, who is vice president of the board and often greets guests at the concerts.

This year’s series opens Saturday with a performance by Boston-based roots band The Mystix.

“My wife has every one of their CDs,” Costello said. “They’re very good.”

Led by Jo Lily, former frontman for popular group Duke and the Drivers, The Mystix will preview songs from “Midnight in Mississippi,” which will be released in September. Lily and guitarist Bobby Keyes, who both have roots in the Greater Newburyport area, will be joined at this weekend’s show by Annie Raines on harmonica, Kevin Barry on lap steel and Dobro, Tom West on keyboards, Matt Leavenworth on fiddle, Dennis McDermott on drums/percussion, and Jesse Williams on bass guitar.

“They’re a funny group, and they’re good musicians besides,” Costello said.

With the skies predicted to clear up on Saturday, the concert should take place on the outdoor stage, with seating available on the patio or lawn and plenty of room for dancing. Attendees are encouraged to bring picnic dinners, and desserts and beverages will be available to purchase during intermission.

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