Strings and things: Rock orchestra returns for JCB Neighborfest show

You know that The Woomblies Rock Orchestra hardly performs as a garden variety cover band when you hear the opening violin strains to Electric Light Orchestra’s 1976 hit “Livin’ Thing.”

What other regional act can you name with a polished, four-piece string section? The rarity of such surfaces on the band’s Facebook page, where those posting reactions are aptly impressed with a group that spares no expense or experience to present a rich, rock sound.

The Indianapolis-based, nine-piece ensemble brings that creativity to the Columbus Area Arts Council’s next presentation of the free JCB Neighborfest at 6 p.m. June 6 in front of The Commons, 300 Washington St. The gathering is organized with the help of downtown’s Fun on Fourth, which coordinates food and drinks.

The band last performed in Columbus in 2017 before an estimated 7,000 people at the annual Our Hospice of South Central Indiana concert at Mill Race Park. The group, whose playlist stretches from The Four Tops to Foreigner, from Lenny Kravitz to Led Zeppelin, opened for nationally touring rock veterans Blue Oyster Cult.

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Plus, the orchestra also adds original material from its 10-song disc “Raise Your Hands.”

In central Indiana and the surrounding area, the group has perhaps been best known for performances at festivals and locales such as The Rathskellar in downtown Indianapolis.

Neighborfest began in 1991 with a crowd of 500 people along Fourth Street in downtown Columbus. Organizers were expecting to call it a success if it had attracted half that number, they said later.

Soon enough, the street shows began attracting more than 1,000 people, ranging from high school students to young professionals to retirees attracted to good beats and good eats.

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What: JCB Neighborfest street concert organized by the Columbus Area Arts Council in conjunction with Fun On Fourth.

Who: The Indianapolis-based nine-member Woomblies Rock Orchestra, performing a wide range of rock covers and some original songs.

When: 6 p.m. June 6.

Where: In front of The Commons at 300 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.

Admission: Free.