Roman Warmke (foreground) and his group The Royales kick off Stuart's Free Summer Concert Series on June 28 (Linsi McCall/Athens Area Arts)
Roman Warmke (foreground) and his group The Royales will kick off Stuart’s Free Summer Concert Series on June 28 (Linsi McCall/Athens Area Arts)

Sovereign Soul: The Royales Kick Off Stuart’s Free Concert Series

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Athens County music fans are about to get the “Royale” treatment from Stuart’s Opera House.

This Friday, the venue’s Free Summer Concert Series kicks off with the “funkin’ kings of rock and soul,” The Royales. The show is being held in conjunction with Final Fridays, Nelsonville’s monthly gallery hop and arts event.

Formed in 1995 as a low-key gathering of like-minded local musicians, The Royales have since become one of Athens’ most popular groups, regularly playing to packed audiences and winning numerous “Best Local Band” awards from the Athens NEWS’ annual readers’ poll.

For Brian Koscho, marketing director for Stuart’s Opera House, scheduling the band to open the concert series was a no-brainer.

“The Royales are the perfect band for this setting and should keep folks dancing and enjoying their high-energy live show all night,” he said.

According to Royales bassist Roman Warmke, the group is excited to get back on stage after a brief hiatus.

“We’ve taken three months off to learn new songs and fine-tune our sound. Most of our shows this summer are private parties and weddings, so this is one of only three times we get to play for the public,” he said.

Although the Free Summer Concert Series has been in existence since 2008, it was only last year that the shows were timed to coincide with Final Fridays–a smart move, according to Koscho.

“We just felt it was another thing to have going on during Final Fridays to bring people into Nelsonville, being able to offer free live music along with all of the shops and galleries having their events and openings,” he explained. “The whole evening becomes a celebration of the arts.”

Warmke echoed Koscho’s sentiments, with praise for Stuart’s efforts in promoting arts in Athens County.

“[The Free Summer Concert Series] is exactly the type of event that makes living in Athens so wonderful,” he said. “Tim (Peacock), Brian, Dan (Prince) and all the folks who work at Stuart’s never fail to amaze me with how hard they work to bring great music to our community. They have literally raised up out of the ashes and helped put Nelsonville on the map as a local center of culture and tourism.”

Festivities get underway this Friday at 5 p.m. with several gallery exhibits and openings taking place around the Public Square. The concert will begin at 7 p.m. in the Stuart’s Opera House parking lot.

“We feel that the perfect thing to do on a summer night is watch live music outside,” said Koscho. “In addition to the music, Stuart’s has a beer garden in the parking lot so you can have a beer while you watch the band.”

Final Fridays and the concert are also part of the first-ever Athens Arts Hop, being coordinated by the Athens Area Citizens for the Arts.

The Free Summer Concert Series continues on Friday, July 26 (Sean Rowe), Friday, Aug. 30 (TBA) and Friday, Sept. 27 (Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line). For more information, visit