It seems like a lifetime ago since we could plan a musical evening out with friends and family. We only realized last year how meaningful those times were and that we may have taken them for granted. But we’ve weathered the Covid storm and life finally seems to be returning to normal. And that means LIVE MUSIC IS BACK!
For those of us that live and breathe music, this is what we’ve been waiting for. The thrill of tossing a blanket on the grass, hanging out with our loved ones and listening to musicians play is possible and it’s already happening around the country. So, what does this return to live music mean to musicians, concert goers and venues? We asked a few folks and here’s what they had to say.
She also began booking private, virtual house concerts for audiences over Zoom and will continue those as well. And now that live shows are safer to resume, Carolyn is excited to return to performing songs from her first album Grenadine & Kerosene live in outdoor spaces. “Luckily in Colorado we can do outdoor gigs, especially in the summer. I hope by late fall it will be overall safer to play inside.” She has an outdoor house concert scheduled for August and is “most looking forward to getting to meet new people and sharing my songs with new audiences. That’s my favorite part about doing music.” Reach out to book her in your venue's outdoor space, or for an intimate, private house concert for you and your friends in your yard.
Concert goer Amy Boymel received an email from Swallow Hill that the summer concerts were coming back to Shady Grove and knew she and her husband had to be there. “It did not disappoint! Perfect weather, great band (Hal Aqua and the Lost Tribe), a picnic dinner with a bottle of wine - all the elements we'd been missing for so long came together.” Amy says the concert was not the only thing that made the evening so special. “The best part was reconnecting with old, dear friends after a year and a half of isolation. We were back and music and laughter filled the air!”
Meredith Erin Levy and her family aren’t regular concert goers. However, they were excited when they learned Michael Franti was coming to Red Rocks Amphitheater. “Originally, the seating capacity was much lower than the two-thirds capacity on concert day, which felt like a safe environment to bring our young daughters - their first real concert during pandemic life.” Besides being mask aware when near other concert attendees, she says the concert felt similar to pre-pandemic life. “Michael Franti still walked, sang and danced throughout the crowd like we have experienced in years past.”
Meredith remembers that people were kind and respectful of everyone’s personal space and “there was a high level of enthusiasm to be at a live show and in a huge crowd, certainly the largest crowd I have been in since pandemic life. I saw few adults wearing masks and the outdoor venue felt safe as a vaccinated person. We would not bring our children to a crowded indoor space or concert at this point (but would be mindful) and attend other outdoor concerts.”
For Paul and other fans of live music the isolation of the pandemic has been particularly difficult. “Having the time off (from live music) made me grateful for everyone involved in the business. From everyone like Saul (Rosenthal, co-owner Denver Folklore Center) who sell instruments, to people like Chuck Morris that produce shows, to the roadies, people in the parking lot, the concessionaires, everybody that contributes to bringing back the noise is greatly appreciated to say the very least.”
Paul has also seen Bob Weir & Wolf Brothers at Red Rocks – “It was only partial capacity but when you looked around it felt full. A lot of big smiles and excited people.” And he’s not stopping there. He has a long list of live music events he’ll be attending this year. “My Blue Sky at the Buffalo Rose, Robert Randolph at Levitt Pavilion, Shakedown Street, Swallow Hill’s summer series. From the big events to the smaller ones like the Shady Grover series, they all have their personalities. It’s gonna be a fun summer! Every day another big tour is announced. I’m sure part of it is trying to recoup the financial loses, but the sense I get is that these are musicians that didn’t get into it for big money. They got into it to make music. And I think that’s what has people excited.”
Paul Lhevine, CEO Swallow Hill Music, is particularly grateful for the return to live music, as the venue’s staff was decimated last year. “Half of our 25 full-time administrators lost their jobs and we’re now in a rebuilding period.” And Swallow Hill is having a busy summer, from partnering with the Denver Botanic Garden for Evenings Al Fresco, which “provided opportunities to book 100 spots for local artists over the summer and that’s been fantastic!” They are also featuring their Shady Grove Picnic Series at Four Mile Historic Park and their first concerts have already broken historic attendance records for that summer concert series.
Paul is hearing good things from outdoor concert fans. “They are so thankful that we did the things we did to keep Swallow Hill alive and part of the Denver music scene, and so thankful that they can go out and enjoy music with their friends. It’s euphoric! Heck I’m excited to not wear a mask going to King Soopers, so going to hear music is times ten.”
Whether you’re a part of the industry or an avid fan, having the option to attend live music events is thrilling! Music is once again uniting us and giving us hope that life is returning to normal.