By Alyssa Schnugg
This weekend the sounds of live music will be heard both on and off the downtown Square with the first Tunes Around Town event kicking off on Saturday and the popular Sunset Concert Series beginning on Sunday.
Tunes around Town, presented by Visit Oxford, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and the Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday on the Square.
The event will feature musical or performance arts in 20-minute increments in several locations around the Square. People are encouraged to walk around to each place at their own pace over a two-hour period.
The locations are places that allow people to listen to the performers but also social distance. Attendees are asked to wear face coverings for their safety and the safety of others.
The line up of performers and locations is as follows:
- In the breezeway at Uptown Coffee and The Oxford Growler: Damien Wash & Rickey Burkhead with Casey Lipe
- In front of Spring Street Cigars: Zechariah Lloyd Tillotson
- The City Hall Plaza: John Spears
- The Visit Oxford Lawn: Eric Deaton
“We wanted to create a reason to come out and get ice cream, dine-in safely or pick up dinner to enjoy at home,” said Visit Oxford Executive Director Kinney Ferris. “The idea is to create safe but fun activities that would hopefully help residents and visitors support our local businesses. This event also gives local artists and musical talent some financial support as well.”
Ferris said Visit Oxford hopes to hold the event month, depending on the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m choosing to make these challenging times reasons to test all that we are doing, to pivot every facet of how we attract people to our town whether that’s residents, second-home owners, students or visitors,” Ferris said.
Sunset Series Concerts
On Sunday, more great music can be heard at the Old Armory Pavilion from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for the first concert in the Sunset Series Concerts, which will be held every Sunday in August.
Social distancing guidelines will be in place and masks are encouraged.
Damien Wash & Rickey Burkhead with Casey Lipe will perform during Sunday’s concert.
The popular, free event is usually held in June; however, it was canceled due to COVID-19.
Wayne Andrews, director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, the organization that sponsors the concerts, said it was important to YAC to offer community programs to provide relief and comfort to citizens while keeping everyone safe.
“The arts have a unique ability to bring people together, create a sense of community and shape our understanding of the experience,” Andrews said.
The Sunset Series Concerts were rescheduled for August, with some tweaks and changes to ensure the safety of performers and those coming to listen to the music.
“We are reducing the number of performers, creating distance between the singers and the audience, and marketing spaces for families or groups to sit that will provide distance from other groups,” Andrews said.
Masks and hand sanitizer will be available on site.
For the first time, YAC will be live-streaming the concerts on its Facebook page for those who cannot attend in person.
“People are invited to bring blankets and chairs, and we will build a stage in the pavilion angling it out toward the grass so people can sit inside or outside the pavilion and still see the band,” Andrews said. “We are doing everything we can think of to create a safe environment, offer some sort of relief and support to our artists and community. But, we need the help of community members to act in a safe manner – think about those around them and recognize that taking a few extra steps to keep everyone safe will enable our community to host safe community events.”
Future concerts will feature Jett Powers Incident on Aug. 9 and Eric Deaton on Aug. 23. The Aug. 16 band is yet to be determined and will be announced at a later date.
For more information, visit YAC online at www.oxfordarts.com.