WILMINGTON — After last week’s announcement of Riverfront Park’s summer schedule, including its official opening with Widespread Panic’s three-night run, more venues are getting back in action after the Covid-19 shutdown.
Greenfield Lake Amphitheater announced yesterday it booked its first new show in over a year with Shakey Graves coming Aug. 29 (tickets, $30-$40, on sale today, 10 a.m.). Today, the 1,200-seat outdoor amphitheater revealed it will officially reopen to the public on June 29 with Tedeschi Trucks (tickets, $75, on sale Friday, May 14, 10 a.m.).
“Apparently, Susan and Derek did livestreams throughout the pandemic called ‘Fireside.’ This is a live version of this, which does not consist of the entire full band, but does consist of six or seven rotating members,” said Beau Gunn, who books shows for Greenfield Lake and is the general manager of Live Local Media, which owns Wilmington’s Penguin 98.3 and Port City Daily.
Gunn explained Greenfield Lake was on schedule to book 38 or 40 concerts in 2020; 12 canceled and 13 weren’t even announced. It had to reschedule multiple shows from the 2020 season, including Umphrey’s McGee on Aug. 5 (tickets, $39-$45, on sale now), Eric Gales on Aug. 7 (tickets, $37-$45, on sale now), Scott McCreery on Aug. 27 (tickets, $40, on sale now), and The Revivalists on Sept. 28 (sold out). Stephen Marley also is being postponed, with a date yet to be announced.
“I suspect The Penguin will host 16-20 shows this year,” Gunn revealed of 2021’s schedule, “with a total of 20 or more happening at the lake when you add in outside promoters.”
Wilson Center also disclosed yesterday that Melissa Etheridge would be arriving in Wilmington this fall, Nov. 7 (tickets, $47-$122, on sale May 14, 10 a.m.). The 1,500-seat venue has rescheduled multiple tours from 2020, including ’70s disco performers Village People on Aug. 19 (tickets $40-$99), yacht rocker Boz Scaggs on Oct. 23 (tickets, $67-$123), and country musician Trace Adkins (tickets, $54-$122) on Dec. 2.
“There are dozens of shows with holds over the course of 2022 into 2025,” Wilson Center executive director Shane Fernando said.
Fernando has been in the process of rebooking shows, concerts and Broadway touring musicals alike. “We will be ready to come out blazing once the green light is given that we can present national tours in a safe manner,” he said.
In 2019-2020, Wilson Center was slated to have their biggest year since opening in 2015. Fernando said they were booking constantly and on a rolling basis.
“We had almost doubled our offerings every year since opening five-plus years ago,” he said.
It had to cancel only two shows during the shutdown. “Dozens of other performances are in the rescheduling process with us and scores of other venues along the East Coast and beyond to try to find dates and reassemble the tour,” Fernando said.
Right now, Wilson Center can only open to 398 people, per the governor’s executive order. If Gov. Roy Cooper sticks to his goal of opening the state fully and easing restrictions by June 1, CFCC’s venue will be able to operate at complete capacity.
“It all depends on safety and regulations put forward to keep our audiences, performers, and crew safe,” Fernando said. “We have shows waiting in the wings, but it will hinge on public safety, as well as consumer confidence.”
Fernando said with Covid-19 numbers declining, the industry is getting a boost of assurance toward resuming performances. While Wilson Center opened two weeks ago to host Opera House Theatre Company’s musical revue “Uptown at the Cotton Club,” it hasn’t hosted a show from its presenting arm, Cape Fear Stage, since March 2020.
“All segments of this industry have been simply decimated and we are all struggling to stay afloat to get to the other side of this,” Fernando said. “I am seeing more and more folks in this business helping each other as we all work to move forward.”
Balancing the “new normal” has forced the industry to work around tricky parameters, according to both Fernando and Gunn. There are different guidelines for different states, meaning audiences and artists need to be on the same page to resume concerts. One upswing, Gunn said, is performing artists seem more flexible to fit in a date as need be.
“Everything is a a bottle neck right now,” he said. “It’s all very interconnected, and until the majority of states surrounding us are all on the same page [with Covid protocols], I suspect we will continue to see a sluggish return to live music — but a return nonetheless!”
Both venues will follow N.C. mandates per Covid-19 as they set to open this summer.
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