One Okanagan town has figured out a way to keep live music playing - InfoNews

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One Okanagan town has figured out a way to keep live music playing

FILE PHOTO: Nova Scotiables play in front of the relaxed crowds at Music in the Park in Riverside Park July 14, 2017.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
June 16, 2020 - 8:00 AM

The day the music died isn't just a line from a classic song.

It can be traced back to mid-March, when COVID-19 reared its ugly head in Canada and the plug was pulled on concerts, festivals and every other public gathering that included live music so public safety could be prioritized.

Its return may be held off in municipalities across Canada until the pandemic is behind us all, unless an innovation taking root in Lake Country shows itself to work.

Ryan Donn, a Kelowna city councillor and District of Lake Country staff member, has been working on a sidewalk concert series that will see live music fill the town's neighbourhoods, while adhering to all public health recommendations.

"It all started when I heard about the opera singer and the bagpiper that were playing outside the (care homes)," he said. "It was a few weeks into the pandemic, but I thought, 'that works.' It's social distancing and it could be adapted so we could bring in bands."

So, he went to work planning sidewalk concerts.

They will require some innovation, like battery-powered speakers and the logistics that come from putting on a 20-minute rolling show in driveways and condo parking lots.

And crowds simply won't be able to grow past 40 without the plug being pulled.

It will be a bit strange, but it's something that the artists are excited to roll with.

"We had 60 applications, and we approved 44," Donn said, adding that while he can't reveal who the acts are just yet they are popular in the area and people will be familiar with each of them. Ben Klick, Poppa Dawg, Opera Kelowna, Cod Gone Wild, Sista B, and others have been named as acts.

"Most of the artists are over the moon," he said. "There is an extreme interest in trying to connect, while following public health orders."

And Donn has faith that they understand what's required of them. As do the people who will be hosting these shows in their neighbourhoods.

"We are leaning on and trusting our applicants to ensure that they host these concerts in a way that respects the public health orders and physical distancing," he said.

The big thing is that people needed something different and he has every hope that this will hit the spot.

"People want something to look forward to, and artists want to get back to work," he said, adding that he didn't want to go the online concert route.

"People want to connect in person."

As word about this endeavour has gotten out, he's heard from people in the same line of work as him from municipalities in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

"They have heard of it and are looking at what they can do, and whether this will work," he said.

With 44 concerts planned, there's a good chance he'll know soon enough.

The first week of July is when the first concert should take place.

To learn more, or to find out a schedule, go here. 


To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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