After months of total shutdown, Peter and Vickie Van Ness are bringing their performances to the outdoors thanks to the Manchester Athletic Club, which has provided a large space surrounded by trees and rock cliffs.
The Gloucester couple's music production company, gimmeLIVE, has created a drive-in concert series that starts this weekend and, of course, will require social distancing protocols.
The lineup includes Roomful of Blues on Saturday, July 25; Barrence Whitfield on Sunday, July 26; Johnny A. on Saturday, Aug. 1; Danny Klein's Full House on Sunday, Aug. 2; The Fools on Saturday, Aug. 8; and the James Montgomery Band on Sunday, Aug. 9.
"Response from artists and fans has been one of excitement," Peter Van Ness said. "Artists are dying to perform for an audience again, and fans crave live music."
Early sales indicate that music lovers are also eager to return to live performances, even with COVID-19 regulations.
"It has been a devastating spring for the performing arts," Van Ness said. "Live music is a powerful healing force. It reduces stress and promotes peace and joy in our community. Vickie and I feel a strong responsibility that the show must go on — and it must be safe. A live drive-in concert achieves both goals."
A decade ago, Roomful of Blues — which has garnered five Grammy nominations — co-headlined a waterfront music festival called "Celebrate Gloucester."
"It just seems right that Roomful of Blues makes their triumphant return to Cape Ann on the 10th anniversary of their iconic performance at Celebrate Gloucester,” Van Ness said. “And when Barrence Whitfield brings it home with his heartfelt, uplifting soul, rock and gospel the following day, you’ve got yourself the kind of joyful, healing weekend we all need right now."
GimmeLIVE will erect a large stage with festival-quality sound in the football field-sized parking lot, which is located just off Route 128's Exit 15 at 8 Atwater Ave., Manchester-by-the-Sea.
Each vehicle will get two parking spaces to allow concertgoers to put lawn chairs next to their car. Concertgoers can bring their own prepared food to enjoy, but no alcohol is allowed. They will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing if they leave their space to go to the bathroom or for other reasons. All staff will wear masks.
All shows start at 6 p.m., with gates opening at 5:15 p.m. Tickets are $75 per car, with a limit of six people allowed per vehicle. For reservations or more information, visit gimmelive.com.
More concerts will be announced in the series, which is scheduled to run through the end of September.
Cape Ann Symphony hosts benefit concert
In its first performance since the pandemic, Cape Ann Symphony will hold a benefit outdoor concert. "Summer Awakening" is intended to be a "hopeful" concert that will benefit the nonprofit regional symphony.
The concert, which features 21 musicians, will take place at a private Magnolia home on Sunday, Aug. 16, at 5:30 p.m. Seating will be limited to an audience of 70.
Fran White, Cape Ann Symphony board president, is hosting the benefit and said that everyone involved is excited to schedule an outdoor concert event.
"We have done a tremendous amount of thoughtful planning and research to ensure the safety of all attendees," White said. "The event is being planned in accordance with current state COVID guidelines. Seating will be arranged with consideration for social distancing requirements, hand sanitizer will be readily available and attendees will be encouraged to maintain social distancing at all times."
Masks will be required and available as needed.
"Holding a concert this summer is important to Cape Ann Symphony since we know that the rest of our 2020 season must be canceled," White said. "We hope that 2021 will bring progress to the control of the virus and we will be able to schedule concerts at some point, but that is still uncertain."
Yoichi Udagawa, the conductor and music director, will lead the program that includes the music of Mozart; Richard Wagner; and William Grant Still, a 20th-century celebrated Black American composer.
"The musicians and I are excited to be able to perform together and are grateful to Cape Ann president Fran White and her husband, David, for opening up their large backyard to host a concert," Udagawa said. "The opportunity to make music and share it with an audience is always a thrill, and more than ever, we musicians are aware of what a privilege it is."
Still (1895-1978), who composed nearly 200 works, is known as the first Black American to conduct a major U.S. symphony orchestra and the first to have one of his symphonies performed by a major orchestra, among many other achievements. His work "Mother and Child" will be performed, in addition to Wagner's "Siegfried Idyll," which is said to have been written as a birthday present for his wife to honor the birth of their son, and Mozart's Symphony No. 29 in A.
Tickets are $100 per person, adults only. Light refreshments will be served. For reservations or more information, call Cape Ann Symphony at 978-281-0543 or visit capeannsymphony.org.
The rain date is Aug. 23.
Around Cape Ann is a column devoted to events happening on Cape Ann and artists from Cape Ann performing elsewhere. If you would like to submit an item, contact reporter Gail McCarthy at 978-675-2706 or firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks in advance.