live music in newport
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Psyched to hear Newport Folk and Jazz are returning? Missing live shows as much as we are? Wanna know what’s up on the local concert scene?

Well, things are slowly getting back to normal… with an emphasis on the word “slowly.” (It’s likely to be more than a year before things are truly “normal” in the concert industry.)

On the heels the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals officially announcing a return this summer, we checked in with a few local establishments to learn more about their re-opening plans.

It’s evident that concert venues around the region are working hard to provide some live entertainment this Spring, with more live shows coming this summer – all of course, dependent on pandemic conditions.

The state’ largest venues are talking about opening up sometime the Fall. In a recent interview on WhatsUpNewp, PPAC President Lynn Singleton noted that with increased vaccine availability, “sometime in late Fall, probably, there are going to be shows in this building.”

Meanwhile, the Dunkin Donuts Center is holding off on announcing any events other than RI Comic Con, scheduled for late November. Some late Fall shows are also tentatively scheduled at The Vets in Providence.

It’s clear that smaller venues are opening up first. At the Greenwich Odeum on East Greenwich, the show is on this weekend. General Manager Amanda Ronchi is enthusiastic about music and comedy returning.

“We are excited to be able to present live music to our patrons, which has been sorely missed over the past year! Hey Nineteen (Tribute to Steely Dan) will take the Odeum stage on April 9th, Hubby Jenkins (from The Carolina Chocolate Drops) on May 15 and Sophie B. Hawkins returns to the Odeum on May 21. All shows will have limited capacity and will adhere to our Covid-19 safety protocols,” explained Ronchi.”

The Greenwich Odeum

The Courthouse Center for the Arts in Kingston is back in business at 50% capacity. Executive Director Mariann Almonte appreciates the help of fans and supporters.

“Since March 13, 2020, we’ve had no income, as a non-profit, we, therefore, shouldn’t be here at all.  Thank God for the kind and loving people that helped us sustain. Our shows, thus far, have proven to be safe and fun for all our patrons. We are opened at half capacity but at 100% safe entertainment and fun for all.”

Meanwhile, Newport movie theater owner Kathy Staab of the Jane Pickens Theatre is more cautious.

“These are certainly not easy times for our industry.  We are hopeful but have not made any decisions on timing for reopening yet.  We feel it is important for more of the population to be vaccinated and for more content to become available with strong films to present.”

Other independent venues like Indian Ranch in Webster, MA are planning on live music this summer, mainly from late July through September.

Organizers at the Rhythm and Roots Festival are optimistic, cautiously making plans for Labor Day weekend. A recent post from their website:

“Conversations with state agencies and the town of Charlestown are giving us hope that we can host Rhythm & Roots this Labor Day weekend. Their guidance has helped us plan with your safety as our top priority. We’re finalizing the lineup and preparing to sell tickets, but of course we’re monitoring the ever-changing situation and will keep you updated.”

So far, the biggest player in the concert industry, Live Nation, has had little to say about the upcoming summer concert season. Shows are currently listed for numerous venues including the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA, but specific re-opening plans have not yet been announced.

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Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music and more for What'sUpNewp, Providence Monthly, SO RI, and The Bay. He DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse" Tuesday nights, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.