It’s here: season 15 of Ken Dahleen and his Idyllwild Summer Concert Series board’s gift to the community. This free event, designed for locals and presented under the stars at the Idyllwild Community Center site throughout the summer, kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 3, as the inaugural event of the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Originally scheduled for the Fourth, the concert had to be moved a day earlier because of a conflict at the site. Said Dahleen, “If you want to hear the music, you’ll need to be there on the third.”

And dancers be advised: This summer has many opportunities to show dance moves and style, and, in general, have a great time.

Opening are Ken Dahleen, his Big Band Staff and Las Vegas crooner Rick Michel. Dahleen said he’ll open the show with music that celebrates the country’s birthday. And since this year no Marine band is on the roster, this will be the only chance to hear big-band patriotic music – toe-tapping Sousa marches and patriotic tributes. Dahleen cautioned there is no opening act, so his Fourth of July tribute starts promptly at 6:30 p.m.

For the second part of the evening, popular Vegas singer Michel presents his 90-minute Sinatra tribute, “Sinatra Forever,” a toast to the extraordinary career of one of the most important singers in American pop music history. Entertainment publication Variety says of Michel, “He is the closest thing to Frank Sinatra we have ever heard.”

Dahleen said he especially wanted Michel for the season opening, noting that this is the 100th anniversary of Ole Blue Eyes’ birth. Said Michel, “The audiences recognize many of the song selections in the show. I have tried to touch upon all aspects of Mr. Sinatra’s life by choosing the variety of music that best represents his career.” Michel is a Sinatra devotee and notes that what made him so important in pop and standard music was his impeccable phrasing, something no other singer has ever bettered. “I think Frank Sinatra was the most articulate of all the pop and standard singers,” he said. “He made songs his own by uniquely phrasing the words to wrap around the melody line like no one else before him or since.”

Of the series, which runs Thursdays for eight weeks from July 3 to Aug. 21, Dahleen said, “We have some amazing new groups and some of the most popular groups returning. We’re especially proud of this year’s lineup.”

Each year Dahleen and his board book the entertainment, make the necessary financial commitments and set up the stage and lights, without having the series budget fully funded. But, Dahleen noted, whereas at this point before the season begins there is usually a decent level of contributions to support the series from community members, this year there is not. “We’re shorter [of funds] this year than we have ever been before,” he said.

But fortunes improved considerably as the result of a June 21 fundraiser at the Grand Idyllwild Lodge. Owner Brad Rechtfertig confimed that a gourmet dinner fundraiser raised $2,000 to be used for the Idyllwild Summer Concert Series.

Dahleen and his board welcomed this news as evidence of how supportive Idyllwild has been of the series.

Anyone interested in sponsoring the series and being featured on banners that back the stage throughout the summer may contact Dahleen at 951-659-2229. Donations may be sent to the Idyllwild Summer Concert Series Inc., P.O. Box 1542, Idyllwild, CA 92549.

The outdoor concert means temperatures drop as the sun lowers so concert-goers are advised to bring layers of clothing or blankets, along with their own seating, food and drinks.