By Gordon Anderson

“Walk, Don’t Run” is one of my favorite songs ever. This instrumental was written in the 50s as kind of a lazy, soft jazz tune, and while the absolute best version of the song (don’t argue with me) appeared on the 1965 Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass album “Going Places,” it was probably made most famous in 1960 by the Ventures – who sped it up and applied their patented surf rock sound, creating what Rolling Stone eventually called one of the greatest guitar songs ever written.

So as I stood on Steele Street one Thursday last month and watched a band called Rolling Dynamite belt out their take on one of my all time jams, I was pretty dang stoked. A surf rock band, playing “Walk, Don’t Run,” in Sanford!

The performance came during the inaugural edition of Downtown Sanford’s “Downtown Alive!” summer concert series, the successor to the old Function at the Junction shows which had been held on Thursday nights at Depot Park during the summer months. The Function at the Junction shows were fine, but moving these concerts to downtown’s main drag has, if you ask me (and I realize nobody did, but I’m the columnist, so I’m telling you anyway), drastically improved their every aspect.

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I for one loved walking around Steele Street as it was closed off (like a smaller version of April’s Downtown Streetfest & Fireworks), bumping into friends and acquaintances, considering whether I was going to get dinner from one of the visiting food trucks or one of downtown’s brick and mortar restaurants, and whether I was going to grab a locally-brewed beer or something from Local Joe’s or the Smoke & Barrel.

It was what downtowns are supposed to be, and what Sanford obviously knew it could be when it decided to undertake the work of the streetscape project that gave ours a whole new look a few years ago. It’s the kind of event that should draw people not only from Sanford, but also from other nearby communities to check out downtown, enjoy some music, and hopefully leave a few bucks with the merchants who work downtown every day.

The crowd at that first concert could have been bigger (although if you’d picked up that crowd and put it at Depot Park, it would have looked a lot like one of those old Function at the Junction concerts), and I expect that it will be just that when the third Thursday of June rolls around. Admittedly, the headliner for the next event – “Appalachian funk rockers Dr. Bacon” – sounds a little less like my personal cup of tea than surf rock, it doesn’t matter. If I want more stuff like this in my town, I’m going to support it when it happens. And hey, I might be surprised.

Anyway, that next concert is set for Thursday, June 20 (details in our June print edition). Walk, or run, but go.

Gordon Anderson had 15 number one hits in the 1970s, but magnanimously relinquished all publishing rights and royalties to already wealthy record executives out of a sense of fairness. He was inducted into the North Carolina Beetle Collecting Hall of Fame in 1985.