For the first time in months, the E.A. Rawlinson centre is promoting a show, not cancelling it.
On Friday the centre announced its first new concert booking since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Saskatchewan in March.
On Aug. 27, the centre is hoping to host a drive-in concert in their parking lot. Everyone will be confined to their vehicles with an empty parking spot left between each car. Everything —including the band — will be outside.
The show will feature one set, no intermission, performed by local group One Bridge Town.
“It’s kind of exciting. We, in a way, feel like a guinea pig too,” said One Bridge Town’s Gord Vaadeland.
“Everyone is trying new things. This is our first kick back at doing something with a venue and it will be interesting to see how people respond to it, and to see how it works for us.”
One Bridge Town has also been booked for a private backyard party. They’re getting used to what performing means for musicians when social distancing is the norm.
“It’s going to be a change, but we’re all just looking forward to playing so much that it’s pretty exciting.”
One Bridge Town has been a regular on the Prince Albert music scene for years.
“While Saskatoon is known worldwide as the City of Bridges, PA is lesser known as the City of Bridge,” the band’s bio reads.
“One Bridge Town celebrates the wonderful grittiness of Prince Albert with an alt-country sound polluted with elements of punk and southern rock … lively, edgy and loud (just like their hometown).”
Vaadeland said the band jokingly throws around the term “cow punk.”
“It’s gritty, it’s high energy and alternative country with some punk edge to it,” he said.
For this show, Vaadeland will be joined by bandmates Joel Rohs, Stephen Williams, Kayanna Wirtz and Zachary Kerr, musicians who also play with local acts The Bush Pies, Rymestone, and the LJ Tyson band.
“One Bridge Town is local talent. We really dig them,” said Cara Stelmaschuk, marketing coordinator at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.
“They were excited to work with us on it so we were happy to have them signed up. That’s how it came together.”
An outdoor concert is one of the types of events the Rawlinson centre was hoping to put on when provincial guidelines allowed, Stelmaschuk said.
“We were looking at our parking lot and thought, if we parked everyone one spot between cars — our parking spots are nine feet wide. Everyone is safely distanced,” she said.
“People are going to have to stay in their cars. You can’t walk around and mingle and gather with your friends in the open spots. You have to stay in your spot.”
The only exception is going to the washroom. The Rawlinson Centre washrooms will be open, but there won’t be a concession stand.
“If people want to hit the convenience store or the A and Dub before the show they’re welcome to do that and have themselves a snack in the parking lot,” Stelmaschuk said.
“It’s going to be fun.”
Tickets for the outdoor, drive-in show are available on the Rawlinson Centre website and cost $30 per vehicle. Access to the parking lot will be limited to the 11 Street West side, as they don’t want to block traffic along 12 Street West. Cars will be given the first two rows, with trucks, vans and SUVs at the back.
“It’s so relieving to be able to talk about something fun, an event that we’re putting on and not one we’re cancelling,” Stelmaschuk said. “We’re the type of people that want to do stuff.”
The drive-in show is just the first phase of what the Rawlinson hopes to do in terms of pandemic-friendly performances.
“The next step for us would be a hybrid-type concert where we would have a very, very limited number of tickets in the auditorium, allowing for distance,” she said.
That would involve closing whole rows so people could pass safely, and will take a long process to set up. Those shows, though, would also have an option for those who don’t feel comfortable in crowds.
“There would be an option for other people who aren’t comfortable going out yet. They could purchase a link to view it from their home, and that would be a lot cheaper,” she said.
“You can still see something live, it’s still our stage, our sound mixed well, a light show, — just like being there but safe and comfortable in your own home. That’s the next level.”
The Rawlinson Centre has one other trick up its sleeves. They’re putting on a serious of curbside concerts where a small group of performers comes to your neighbourhood to play. Flyers are put out the day of to let people know they’re coming. No other advance notice will be given as the intent is to keep crowds small.
Those concerts will be free to attend and will bring the music to you.
“If people do come across one if it’s in your neighbourhood you’re welcome to stay on your lawn or your driveway and bring out your folding chairs,” Stelmaschuk said.
“Don’t approach the stage, block streets or driveways. We’re going to try to hit different parts of town as much as we can.”