ALAMEDA -- Summer is fast approaching, and for Alamedans that signals Concerts at the Cove, that popular musical and family fun event now in its 14th year.

On three Friday nights -- June 14, July 12 and Aug. 9 -- the air will ring with the sounds of live music. The concerts are free, parking is free and the Crab Cove Visitor Center will hold its doors open from 4:30 until 8 p.m. for kids of all ages to explore its exhibits and sample its fun. So mark your calendars, haul out picnic baskets, lawn chairs and blankets and get set for three evenings of fun, Alameda Cove-style.

The popular concerts are co-produced by the Rotary Club of Alameda in partnership with the East Bay Regional Park District and the Regional Parks Foundation and the lineup will have concertgoers dancing and singing along with Fleetwood Mask on June 14, the Bob Claire Orchestra on July 7 and the Battle of the Bands between Bear Lincoln, Rudolph and Soulstice on Aug. 9.

The events cater to music fans as well as families looking for something fun, and Crab Cove Visitor Center has activities that will keep youngsters from 3 to 12 occupied as the music plays, with nature crafts on the deck, a scavenger hunt inside and fish feeding at the five aquariums.

"We'll stay open during the whole concert until 8 p.m., and a lot of families take advantage of that to come in," said Sharol Nelson-Embry, supervising naturalist. "People love it; they're appreciative and enjoy hanging out with their kids and doing fun activities as well as enjoying the concert."

Depending on the weather and the band, it's not unusual to have up to 2,000 people at the concerts, and June's Fleetwood Mask is bound to be a crowd pleaser. A Northern California Fleetwood Mac tribute band, the ensemble brings more than 25 years of professional music and theatrical experience to the stage with their repertoire that spans the decades from the 1970s to Fleetwood Mac's latest hits and includes favorites such as "Go Your Own Way" and "Gypsy."

"Tribute bands from the '70s and '80s are very, very popular with the crowd," said Jeff Cambra, chairman, Concerts at the Cove Committee, Rotary Club of Alameda. "People get up and dance, and you can see them lip-syncing the songs. They really get into the music."

The Bob Claire Orchestra is a 10-piece band specializing in dance and party music that entertains with a blend of soul, R&B, Motown, blues and jazz. Winning last year's Battle of the Bands in August got this local band its July gig at the cove.

"They really get the crowd up with their great Motown songs; they're a very solid band and very, very popular," Cambra said.

August's Battle of the Bands took shape when Rotary took over the concerts last year, looking for something a little different that would generate excitement and still be family friendly. On Aug. 9, three judges will evaluate each band and announce the winner, with cash prizes going to all three.

People are welcome to bring their own food but asked not to bring any alcoholic beverages. Additionally, there will be some great options for food purchases including tacos from Calafia Taqueria, hamburgers and hot dogs from Café Jolie and pulled pork sandwiches from Café Q, as well as Peter's Kettle Corn, Hula Hawaiian Shaved Ice and beverages.

"These are all Alameda business because we try to be as Alameda-centric as we can," Cambra said.

While everyone will be out for a good time, Cambry made a point of reminding Alamedans that all proceeds from the event go directly back into the Alameda community, in the form of Alameda student scholarships or community grants to Alameda-based nonprofits.

"People come for many reasons but I think for the most part this is a complete family-friendly evening," Cambry said. "There's free entertainment, an opportunity to get food and beverages and a chance to get outside."

FYI
What: Concerts at the Cove
When: Fridays, June 14, July 12, Aug. 9
Where: on the lawn adjacent to Crab Cove Visitor Center, 1252 McKay St. Additional parking at the entrance to Crown Memorial State Beach, at the intersection of Eighth Street and Otis Drive Concert and parking free.
Details: Crab Cove Visitor Center activities and food sales begin at 4:30 p.m., concert from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Information: 510-865-3636 or www.concertsatthecove.com.