By Alicia Lacy
Killeen Daily Herald
Gather lawn chairs, blankets and coolers and any other items to make a night on the lawn of the Killeen Amphitheater comfortable, as the city's Parks and Recreation Department prepares to kick off this year's Hot Summer Nights tonight at 8 with oldies band Groove Daddy.
The annual series is hosted to promote a sense of community to residents through diverse musical talent and some of the latest movies for families to enjoy every Friday night in June and July, with the exception of July 2.
Brett Williams, Killeen Parks and Recreation director, said the department has hosted the event for at least 15 years. Every year, the city tries to bring a diverse group of talent and movies to reflect the area's culturally diverse population so there is something for every taste.
The department partnered with Time Warner Cable to incorporate the movie showings four years ago to bring something new.
Williams said the series usually attracts between 400 and 1,500 attendees, depending on the band, the movie or the weather.
Kicking off the series is the 10-piece Groove Daddy ensemble, which includes three vocalists; a horn section with an alto saxophonist, tenor saxophonist and trumpeter; and a rhythm section with a drummer, bass player, guitar player and keyboardist.
Steve Sargent, the group's drummer and booking agent, said the audience could expect to hear selections from Chicago, Tower of Power and Stevie Wonder, among others.
With a diverse set list of about 400 songs, Groove Daddy has been known to play oldies, current hits, country, big band, swing and '60s, '80s and '90s rock.
Described as a pop funk band, the Austin-based group will make its first appearance in Killeen.
Concessions will be available for purchase, and alcoholic beverages and containers are prohibited.
"It's a great atmosphere and something we take pride in," Williams said.
Hot Summer Nights series
June 11 - "Monsters vs. Aliens"
June 18 - All U Need, a rhythm and blues, funk and jazz band
June 25 - "The Blindside"
July 9 - "Imagine That"
July 16 - Wild Horses, a country music band
July 23 - "Star Trek"
July 30 - Orquesta Trabuko, a salsa band
All shows are at the Killeen Community Center Amphitheater, 2201 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd., Killeen.