Despite early-afternoon storms, the Texoma Gospel Saints and Billie Jo Sewell took the stage in Denison Friday night for the first 2018’s Music on Main concert series. The annualten-week concert series brings local, regional and travelling musicians to the heart of Denison each week for a free public concert on Main Street.

Main Street Director Donna Dow said the rainy weather earlier in the day ultimately had little to no impact on the event, and it went on as scheduled in Heritage Park.

“We had a good crowd, but we had a lot of calls from people wondering if it would still go on,” Dow said. “Likely some stayed home and didn’t drive long distances because of the weather.

“The only effect it actually had was that it cooled things off quite a bit. It was a nice evening and the music was terrific.”

For the first concert of the season, event organizers booked the Texoma Gospel Saints as the main act with American Idol contestant Billie Jo Sewell as the opening act. The Texoma Gospel Saints were formed in 2007 through area churches across the region. Organizers for the group said

“When I received the phone call from the promoter for Music on Main, I was kind of stunned and shocked,” Gary Lowell, who helped form the group, told the Herald Democrat earlier this month. “There are a lot of people hurting. There are a lot of people dealing with sickness and family issues. These people need to hear something different. This will give us the opportunity to reach a lot of people that are looking for answers at a time when it is just really hard to maintain who you are, your job and your faith.”

Dow said organizers for Music on Main have been looking to host a gospel artist for many years, but have been unable to make that happen until this year’s series.

“We are always excited to start the series, but we are particularly proud to bring a gospel group to the series for the first time,” Dow said.

Booking for the first weekend, which coincides with the Memorial Day weekend, can be difficult at times, Dow said. However, having a local artist who could bring something that the concert series has not featured in the past would not only solve the issue, but also potentially bring in larger crowds, she said.

“We try to come up with someone who will be a big draw on the holiday,” she said. “It can be hard to book for the holiday, and on the first night of the series.”

This is the first concert for the event since the Mortimer and Mimi Levitt Foundation, a funding source for the concert series since 2015, said it would not be providing a $25,000 grant for the series this year. Despite the setback, Dow said she feels that this might be a blessing in disguise as it allowed the city more freedom in booking its acts and what kinds of genres could appear on the series.

“We are very pleased with our line up this year,” Dow said. “We were able to choose what we feel the local people will show up for.”