With the concert industry slowed significantly by the COVID-19 crisis, artists, venues and promoters are getting creative. Once considered near-obsolete, drive-in theaters are making a comeback, showing movies and more recently, music.
One of Rhode Island’s two remaining drive-in’s, the Misquamicut Drive-In in Westerly, is putting on a series of concerts in addition to the regular summer fare of classic films. A range of acts are scheduled going forward, including Maine-based The Ghost of Paul Revere on Wednesday July 15th.
Described by the Boston Globe as “a foot-stompin’ holler-folk quartet,” the band has shared the stage with The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell, and Bela Fleck. They’ve also played the Newport Folk Festival and host their own event, “Ghostland,” every Labor Day weekend. The band is playing several regional drive-in’s this summer and even has merchandise designed for the occasion.
Several upcoming shows are part of the “United at the Drive-In” series, co-sponsored by Westerly’s United Theatre and the Knickerbocker Café, a music institution in southern Rhode Island.
“This is the first Summer that the United Theatre has teamed up with the Misquamicut Business Association, who run the drive-in,” remarked Tony Nunes, Artistic Director at United. “We are looking forward to announcing a bunch of events for August and September at the drive-in in the coming days and weeks – including a partnership on an event with the Newport Folk Festival during what would have been festival weekend.”
Nunes mentioned that turnout has been strong. “We’ve only done one concert so far, with Will Evans last week, and people were so excited to be out of the house and hearing live music in person again.”
Additional future shows include the Adam Ezra Group on July 22nd and RI favorite Billy Gilman on July 25th. And a national tour brings Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits) to town on July 26th. Concerts start at 9PM and tickets are typically priced by the carload.
The organizers assure that “rules are in place per the state during the Covid-19 situation. Social distancing will be in effect. Cars will be parked 6 feet apart. You can sit outside the car with a mask.”
When not filled with the sounds of live music, the Drive-In is screening films most nights. Later this week, go Back to the Future with special guest, film cast member, J.J. Cohen. Later this month, it’s the return of E.T. Movies and music continue right through Labor Day weekend. For complete details, check the Misquamicut Drive-In web site here.