Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear Submitted photo

Johnson County Community College opens its Light Up the Lawn summer concert series on Friday, Aug. 12, with Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal, a Midwest band that combines soul, funk and rhythm and blues. Three more lawn concerts are on the way through early September: Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear on Aug. 19, Maria The Mexican on Aug. 26 and Abbey Road on Sept. 2.
All of the concerts are free and open to the public. They will begin at 8:30 p.m. on the lawn of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. Lawn chairs, blankets and picnic baskets (without alcohol) are welcome. The college is located at 12345 College Blvd., and the Nerman sits near the intersection of College and Quivira Road.
Hoyer formed Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal in 2012 in Lincoln, Neb The award-winning six-piece band includes some of the area’s most revered and accomplished musicians. Inspired by Stax, Motown, New Orleans, Philly and San Francisco, the band continuously crosses musical boundaries both in style and era.
If James Brown and Otis Redding had a love child, it would be Josh Hoyer, a reviewer wrote last fall in the quarterly Journal of Roots Music called No Depression. The Lincoln, Neb., soul shouter and his band of merry soulsters, Soul Colossal, deliver a sound so big, so funky, so wring-the-sweat-out-of-you energetic that it reaches through the speakers and shakes you until you start moving to its groove.
The band completed several national tours in 2015, playing more than 150 shows in 32 states. During small breaks, Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal recorded a live album, “Cooked Raw.” Their latest album, “Running from Love,” is the band’s most ambitious project to date. It was released in April.
Here’s a bit about the other concerts.
Friday, Aug. 19 Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear.  Madisen Ward and his mom, Ruth Ward, are the leading members of this modern soulful folk duo. The band’s sound is anchored by twin guitars and two big, booming voices. Madisen grew up watching his mom performing songs at local coffees shops in Kansas City. Soon he started writing songs and performing with her. For years, they kept a low profile with no record label and no manager. Still, their audiences grew. The band’s debut album, “Skeleton Crew,” was produced by Jim Abbiss, known for his award-winning work with Arctic Monkeys and Adele. On stage, they can be solemn one moment and electrifying the next. Check out their site and their music online, as thousands already have done.
Friday, Aug. 26 Maria The Mexican. Maria Elena Cuevas and her sister, Teresa “Tess” Cuevas, began performing at the age of 11 with Mariachi Estrella, a band founded by their grandmother. Today, Maria The Mexican is a mix of traditional mariachi roots and contemporary blues-rock delivered in English and Spanish. The band, formed in 2011, includes Maria on vocals and guitar, Tess on vocals and violin, and Garrett Nordstrom and Jason Riley on guitar. Their debut album, “Moon Colored Jade,” came out in 2013. Their latest album is “South of the Border Moonlight..”
Friday, Sept. 2 Abbey Road. This Beatles tribute band sticks true to the original music with few artistic liberties. The seven-member band, founded in 1996, plays the hits from 1962 to 1970. The group has performed at festivals, parties and celebrations in the Kansas City are for more than 12 years. Fans will appreciate their attention to musical detail. Learn more and listen to a few songs here.
The Abbey Road concert will be preceded by the Harvest Dinner, a benefit for sustainability scholarships, using produce from the Campus Farm. Get the details at