Summer sounds

Hoosier pop-rock singer Henry Lee Summer, best-known for upbeat, feel-good hits such during the late 1980s — especially 1988’s “I Wish I Had a Girl” — will play a free, outdoor concert Saturday.

The event, at the Columbus Moose Lodge No. 398, Eighth and Washington streets, will benefit two charities through donations of money and toys.

The Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund provides gifts for youngsters of struggling families at Christmas.

Wish For Our Heroes is a national veterans outreach that has served veterans in Bartholomew County.

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Brian Holbrook, a concert organizer for the lodge, remembers seeing Summer in the performer’s heyday when he had three different songs on the charts, including “Hands On the Radio” from 1988 and “Hey Baby” from 1989.

Holbrook figures Summer, who has performed in Columbus before, still boasts a fairly loyal following.

Summer has opened for nationally touring acts such as Chicago, Don Henley and The Doobie Brothers.

He also shared the stage with Seymour native John Mellencamp for a concert that drew more than 43,000 concert fans to the Indiana State Fair in 1988. Then in 1990, the two Hoosier performers were among a Farm Aid IV lineup that drew 61,000 fans to the now-razed Hoosier Dome, then home of the Indianapolis Colts.

The 60-year-old Summer, born Henry Lee Swartz in Brazil, Indiana, is self-taught on guitar, piano and drums. In his prime, he recorded for major labels such as CBS Records and Epic Records.

At the height of his music chart success in the 1980s, Summer mixed rock classics — such as “Louie Louie,” “Twist and Shout” and “When a Man Loves a Woman” — with his own material, just as does for current shows.

He’s known for interjecting considerable exuberance and humor into tunes. During a live duet in 2014 with former Columbus resident and pop artist Jim Ryser, Summer added lyrics to an elongated version of “I Wish I Had a Girl” that left Ryser laughing.

These days, Summer performs primarily in Indiana. Admission to his next concert is also free.

Summer will be performing at the Greenwood Park Mall Summer Concert Series at the outdoor fountain on the mall’s north side from 7 to 8:30 p.m. June 23.

The sounds of Summer

What: Free, outdoor concert with headliner Henry Lee Summer. Opening act is The House Burners, an ensemble of local firefighters.

When: Opening act will start at 5 p.m. Saturday. Summer is expected to take the stage at about 7:30 p.m.

Where: Eighth and Washington streets outside at Moose Lodge No. 398 in Columbus.

Concessions: Food and beverages available for purchase.

Admission: Free.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.