Music is in the air all over Old Hilliard this summer.

Music is in the air all over Old Hilliard this summer.

Hilliard's Station Park and the gazebo at 5274 Norwich St. are both sites of summer concert series designed to attract visitors from throughout central Ohio.

Hilliard's Station Park has a lineup of Thursday night concerts through Aug. 4, while the the Tuesdays in Old Hilliard series features acts through Aug. 16. The Hilliard Arts Council also has performances at the gazebo and other sites this summer.

The concerts have proven to be a success, according to city officials.

Christy Clark, executive director of Destination Hilliard, said Old Hilliard is as busy as she has ever seen since joining the organization seven years ago.

"I'm amazed at all the foot traffic I see every day of the week, and I think it's because of all the great activities at both parks," she said.

A recent act at Hilliard's Station Park was Black Water Road, a band co-founded by John Hall, the city's director of lands and buildings and a Hilliard resident.

Members of the band, which performed June 30, include Hilliard police officer Tony LaRosa, whose membership began with a performance at his wedding three years ago.

LaRosa, 33, said he booked Black Water Band to play at his wedding in May 2013.

"I told John I had a dream to play once on stage with a band," LaRosa said.

Noticing that Black Water Road had several Bob Seger songs on its set list, LaRosa said, he asked if a saxophone player were needed in the band.

"I played saxophone in high school but hadn't played (regularly) since," LaRosa said.

After learning how well LaRosa played even without regular practice, Hall encouraged LaRosa to put his full effort into it.

"John has been my musical mentor," said LaRosa, who plays with Black Water Road as often as possible but misses some dates for work and other obligations. "Music is my outlet and my stress relief."

LaRosa is one of Hilliard's K-9 handlers.

Meanwhile, Hall, 57, has a musical career stretching back decades.

He was a member of a band called South Point, named for the southernmost village in Ohio along the Ohio River in Scioto County.

The band charted a No. 53 record on the national charts, "Old Cheap Wine," and Hall spent several years living near Nashville and touring with South Point, opening for acts such as Diamond Rio, Lorrie Morgan and the Charlie Daniels Band.

"But when that didn't work out quite like we wanted," Hall said, he returned to Hilliard where he resumed his career with the city.

"I love this town and it is where I wanted to come back," he said.

Hall credits his wife of 37 years, Renee, and their son, John, for their unwavering support of his music.

He said he did not play often after returning to Hilliard, except for one-off shows, until about five years ago when he received a call from a friend, Melvin Doan, who encouraged him to form a band called the Mac Phillips Band.

The lineup lasted about two years and evolved into Black Water Road.

Gary Cordle, a percussionist and vocalist from West Jefferson, and Hall left the Mac Phillips Band, and with bassist and vocalist Steve McGlothlin of Hilliard, guitarist and vocalist Trent Anderson of Westerville, sound technician Scott Rogers of Hilliard and LaRosa, formed Black Water Road.

It was a name Hall said he had thought of many years earlier. It is a road in Ross County between Circleville and Chillicothe that crosses U.S. Route 23, a journey the southern Ohio-born Hall has made countless times.

"I saw that (road name) and ever since then, I thought it would be a great name for a band," Hall said.

Hall and LaRosa said it is a thrill to play on the stage and both relish audience reaction.

"It's a feeling you can't describe," Hall said.

"The more (the audience) gets into it, the more we do," LaRosa said.

Both recounted instances of being recognized in the community as performers.

"One woman said, 'I recognize you,' " said LaRosa, who first thought he had perhaps encountered the woman on a police call.

Then the woman asked if he played a saxophone.

The band's concert schedule is available at blackwaterroad.com.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo