Rawlinson Centre surprises residents with curbside community concerts

Lauren Lohneis, left, and Teegan Jeffers play for people in line at SARCAN on Wednesday, August 19, 2020. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

The E.A. Rawlinson Centre put on a different kind of community concert Wednesday.

Over the course of an afternoon, the centre toured a two-woman curbside concert across the city, playing for whoever happened to be around. In total, dozens got to hear Teegan Jeffers and Lauren Lohneis perform a handful of acoustic covers of popular songs while accompanying themselves with a standup bass, ukulele and saxophone.

After a soundcheck for Broadway North Summer Intensive students in the parking lot, the pair, accompanied by the Rawlinson Centre technical staff, headed out to the Victoria Hospital.

Two shift changes came through during that show, and then they headed to Homeward Bound, SARCAN, the Scout Hall/Alfred’s Spray Park in the west flat, Mitchell Place/River Breeze retirement communities, the Summer Delight ice cream stand in the Cornerstone Parking lot and finally at a residence on Sibbald Crescent in the city’s southeast. The eight concerts ran about 30 minutes each.

The concerts weren’t announced until the day of, to keep crowd numbers low. Still, the duo was well-received wherever they went.

“It was enjoyable, I loved the idea that they came to us,” said Dorothea Herron, who took in the Mitchell Place concert from her lawn chair.

“We’ve been hiding out because of the heat and because of the virus, so having this is just wonderful. We do want to thank the E.A. Rawlinson Centre for providing this for us.”

Jeffers and Lohneis are no strangers to the stage, or each other. Jeffers has played in local bands, including the Goats, and she and Lohneis both appeared as main cast members in last year’s Broadway North production of Mamma Mia!. They’ve since appeared at other shows, including singing at the Arts Hall of Fame induction gala. Lohneis works as a band and choir teacher in local schools, while Jeffers has played bass with multiple Saskatoon acts and with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra.

Teegan Jeffers (left) and Lauren Lohneis perform outside River Breeze Retirement Complex. Photo courtesy E.A. Rawlinson Centre.

“Such great talent,” Herron said.

Rawlinson centre general manager Roxanne Dicke also followed the touring show around town.

“We want to engage with the community again,” Dicke said.

“We’re so missing our patrons, our people. This is the way to remind them that things are going to start up again, going out and making people happy at the location they’re in.”

The Rawlinson Centre staff were “thrilled” to be producing a show, she added, even if it was a little unconventional.

“It’s what we love to do, so we are thrilled to be reaching out again and opening our doors.”

That community connection was what was so important to Jeffers.

“It was really special,” she said.

“Lauren and I, and the community in general, have been starving for art and music. We were able to get out there and in the community and play for everybody. It was awesome.”

For Jeffers, the most special performances were at Homeward Bound, where she works, and at the splash park for all the families.

“It was really sweet. There was a whole bunch of happy kids running around and parents sitting on blankets,” she said, adding that people set up in their front lawns, or pulled over as they drove by the pop-up concerts.

“I just love community and Homeward Bound and the spray park, those are communities. It was really cool.”

The concerts also served as a promotion for the Rawlinson’s gradual reopening plan.

That plan continues with a drive-in concert set for next Thursday evening, featuring local act One Bridge Town.

Tickets are $32 per car, and sound will be transmitted to be picked up on your radio, or you can roll down your window and listen live. Tickets are still available.

Dicke said the next step will be in-person performances with limited seating.

Social distancing will be enforced, and patrons will be given the option to purchase a link to a stream of the live show if they don’t feel comfortable attending in person.

Those shows, though, won’t start until the fall.