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Staple of Summer Outdoor Concerts Starting to Emerge as COVID Restrictions, Worries Ease

Carter Cywilko/Apple Valley Park
Provided photo

The past several weeks, one hard-hit industry during the pandemic is starting to show signs of life here in Central New York.  Live music concerts – which were completely shut down for most of a year – are being staged in small and large outdoor venues.  The development  means hope for music fans and the people who work in the industry. 





Credit Eric Liu / Provided photo
Provided photo
Apple Valley Park carved the concert venue out of a field.  They plan 15 or more additional concerts, admitting that COVID restrictions could go either way, so they have to be nimble in terms of protocols at the events. 

When the music of the rock group Twiddle rang out from a stage down in the Lafayette Valley, it helped signal a return to live concerts for starved and restless music fans.  Apple Valley Park was set up near the apple festival grounds off of route 20.  Operations Directed Eric Booth turned a large field into a place where people can have a socially distanced music experience with PODS for 2, 4 or 6 people and a full, festival-worthy stage.

“Money’s being spent long before you have your first act booked, so it’s a huge gamble because we could have put in thousands of dollars and just not been able to confirm any shows.  You just never know who’s touring right now given what’s going on.  So it was a ton of risk and it’s still is a ton of risk.”

Syracuse Speaks on CNY Summer Staples & What's Opening Up: Friday @ 2:00 pm on 88.3 WAER

Demand is definitely there.  For the four days of Twiddle shows, Booth says people sought tickets from at least 22 states.  And now that the stage is set up, they’ll produce as many as 20 more shows, including name acts such as the Allman-Betts band, Tedeschi-Trucks and others (details here)

Other venues such as Beak and Skiff and even city parks have hosted live music performances in recent weeks as well.  Good news for fans … and about time for all the stage, sound and other behind the scenes workers who were instantly left high and dry with pandemic shutdowns.

“For the most part, everyone went from 100 to zero overnight.  A lot of people moved home.  We lost friends over that period.  I think it was tough on everybody, but I think it was especially tough on our industry.  You heard a lot about the restaurant workers, and you heard some stuff with Save our Stages and other initiatives.  But I did feel like oftentimes the music industry was kind of overlooked.”

Booth is seeing a return to even big events, both here and around the country.  Maybe too many crammed into a short window.  He’s guarding his optimism that the industry is completely back.

“I see all these big stadium tours, big shed tours, getting announced for that August-September window, and I just think as a music industry we should have learned over the last year.  The country tried to jump back into things a little quickly at times and caused us to go backwards.  Maybe we should be a little cautious and ease forward.  But that’s why we’re doing this in a 10-week window where we feel like this is a safe environment where we can safely produce shows.”

Booth admits things are changing and says their future shows could have different COVID restrictions based on government and CDC rules.  But for now, the thawing of frozen concert stages is welcome news for fans and workers alike.  

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.