Live Music Returns!
Downtown’s “New Normal” concerts will bring the excitement we’ve been missing back
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that 2020 was the year the live music died, or at the very least, was put on indeterminate hold. COVID-19 restrictions shut down live performances, and it’s hard to say who suffered more – the fans who love the concerts, the venues that depend on the live music for traffic or the musicians themselves, “gig” workers suddenly without a gig. I’m happy to share that that this long spell of quiet is just about to be over.
Over two nights, Sept. 18 and 19, you’ll be able to see eight acts performing at Municipal Park at Texas Avenue and Milam Street as part of the New Normal Drive- In Concerts. Music will flow and smiles will follow as some of the best bands in the region – Good Spirits, Jimmy Wooten Band, Windstorm, Logan and The Legendaries, Alter Ego, The Hollow Decks, Renee Caldwell, and Dan and Amelia Garner – take the stage. Musically, there will be something for everyone, from Louisiana Hayride honkytonk to R&B to Motown to 90s covers. The biggest attraction, though, will be the opportunity to safely gather again to hear live tunes. You would be right to think that this is going to be a high-energy happening.
In addition to helping with the emcee duties, Renee Caldwell, better known to her fans as Sweet “Nay,” will be leading car karaoke and “laying down some R & B covers.”
Caldwell is a fun and energetic performer with a big personality and a voice to match. “We didn’t expect this,” she told me recently about COVID-19. “The musicians that I normally hire, playing is their sole income, and it’s been hard.” She laughs about a gig she recently did “out in the woods in Texas.”
The concert was in a field in the dark, and she got lost getting there. By the time she arrived, the mosquitos had arrived, too, but she was happy to perform all the same.
“It’s all in the name of entertaining and doing what I love,” she laughed. Renee says she is going to make sure that people are entertained at the New Normal Concert. “It’s going to be their chance to escape for these two nights!”
Windstorm band member Curtis Mills says music DOES provide escape, and he believes the lack of live music during the COVID pandemic has exacted an emotional toll on everyone. “Music charms the soul,” he told me. “It’s your joy. Everyone has memories in life connected to a song; I definitely believe in the healing factor of music.” Mills says he and the band are excited about once again being able to connect with a live audience, even one that is socially distanced across a parking lot. This, he says, “will take the performance to another level.” Every band participating is thrilled with the “comeback.” Vocalist/guitarist Dexter Duran of The Hollow Decks, a band that digs deep into music from the 1990’s, says 2020 has been devastating. “Since March, performing artists and bands have struggled to make any income because our entire industry has been shut down. It’s events like these that bring this community together, and it needs to happen more often!” We agree.
The live music and great bands are the main draw, but the event set-up will also be fun. Attendees will be given a drive-in theater experience much like the recent New Normal Drive-In. Gates will open at 6 p.m.; cost is $30 per vehicle whether you have one or eight people inside. Bands will start performing on the large LED-lit stage at 7 p.m. with 45-minute sets, which will last until roughly 10:30 each evening. In between the sets will be fun car karaoke events and other musical entertainment. You’ll be able to listen to the concerts through your car radio or roll the windows down (or do both) and get a real “stereo” performance! If you want a bit more space and a guaranteed front row seat, a VIP Social Distancing Circle area directly in front of the stage will be available for those who would like to get out and dance but still be safe. Twenty of these special circles will be available for $50 each. You won’t go hungry or thirsty, either. Meals will be available to purchase in advance, and there will be food and drinks available for purchase the nights of the concerts.
We wouldn’t be able to pull this event off without the amazing creativity and work of Apex Communication & Events, Summers Social, the City of Shreveport (SPAR), the Shreveport House Concert Series and Shreveport-Bossier: Louisiana’s Other Side. Yes, it takes a village to put on two nights of live music, and what a village it is.
Tickets are limited, and we expect a quick sellout. You can purchase them on the Facebook event page at the New Normal Drive-In Theater Live Concert. The Friday night lineup includes Good Spirits, Jimmy Wooten Band and Windstorm. Saturday’s lineup is Logan and The Legendaries, Alter Ego and The Hollow Decks. Sweet Nay and Dan and Amelia Garner will be featured both nights.
It’s been a tough, weird, unsettling year, and no one will be unhappy to put 2020 in their rear-view mirror. Thankfully, events like these are helping everyone make the best of a bad thing while supporting our local music scene and stage and sound technical entertainment industry. It may be “new normal,” but it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun!