The Berks Arts Council's 2008 Bandshell Concert Series will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday evenings from July 4 through July 25 in Reading's City Park.The concert series kicks-off on July 4 with the Reading Pops Orchestra featuring Nelson Rangell performing the American Songbook in a concert titled "Let Freedom Swing."

The Reading Pops Orchestra formed in 1969 as a group of local musicians who gathered for outdoor performances, including the City Park Band Shell. The Reading Pops have a timeless appeal to a constantly growing audience. Rangell is known as one of the most exciting and diverse musicians in contemporary jazz. He plays the saxophone, flute, piccolo - and he even whistles. Among those he has played and recorded with are Chieli Minucci, The Rippingtons, Chuck Loeb and Patti Austin.

Internationally renowned The Barra MacNeils will perform on July 11. Come dressed in a kilt and prepare to enjoy one of the greatest live acts in the Celtic world. Hailing from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, the six MacNeil siblings are deeply rooted in Celtic music, culture and history. Their numerous critically acclaimed recordings have included their own original songs as well as tried and true standards, both instrumental and vocal.

The Barra MacNeils are celebrating more than 20 years of recording with their latest release, "20th Anniversary Collection Album." The band released its self-titled debut in 1986 and has recorded 13 albums since then. In 2001, The Barra MacNeils released a DVD titled "Cape Breton Christmas."

The band incorporated music from its live Christmas Concert Special as seen on Country Music Television (CMT) and on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). The DVD also featured music videos and a visit to Cape Breton complete with interviews of The Barra MacNeils home at Christmas.

On July 18, the Berks Arts Council welcomes blues performer Bernard Allison, son of the late, great Luther Allison, who appeared at the Bandshell Concert Series in 1995. The musician's style reflects a mix of traditional and modern blues. His influences include soul, funk, R&B and rock from musicians Luther Allison, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Gales, Otis Redding and Chuck Berry. Allison's debut solo album released in 1990 was titled "The Next Generation." His current record is titled "Chills and Thrills."

The 2008 Bandshell Concert Series will conclude with a performance by "the subdudes" on July 25. Take some blues and a little folk, a touch of country and funk, a pinch of bluegrass, zydeco, gospel, a sprinkle of rock & roll roots, stirred all together with some sweet soulful harmonies and you have the ingredients for the American Roots Music sound of the subdudes.

This New Orleans based quintet, a perennial favorite at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, is known for their original songwriting as well as their renditions of classic favorites.

The band has released eight albums since it was founded in 1987.

Ten years later, the musicians parted ways.

After taking a five-year hiatus, the Subdudes reformed in 2002.

Since then, the band has released three albums, including the 2007 release of "Street Symphony."

Concert-goers are also asked to help out Mayor Tom McMahon's "Cops and Kids," program, in which city police officers read books to Reading schoolchildren, by bringing gently used children's books to The Barra MacNeils and the Subdudes concerts.

Bring family and friends along with blankets and lawn chairs to City Park to experience great music in a natural setting.

Alcohol and smoking are not permitted in City Park. Food will be available for purchase from Stephan's Concessions, Mezcal's Mexican Restaurant, and Texas Roadhouse.

Berks Arts Council members can bring along your membership cards to receive a Clover Farms beverage in the Members Only tent.

For more details about the concert series and performers, visit www.berksarts.org and visit the Bandshell page.

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