Go Play (and Listen) Outside With St. Louis Concerts | City Guide | St. Louis | St. Louis News and Events
After more than a year of our new, pandemic-centric normal, Drew Jameson has figured things out pretty well.
As the owner and talent buyer of the Jamo Presents advertising agency, Jameson was forced to adjust all of its operations when COVID-19 hit the St. Louis area. At the time, he was booking for the outdoor pavilion stage of the now-defunct Atomic Cowboy. As the pandemic began, Jameson moved from a steadfast appearance in a specific location to the uncertainty that comes when the government announces that gathering in a crowd could mean illness or death for everyone involved.
Jameson knew that he and his team had to be aware of their planning if they were to host events safely. For months they huddled together developing a way for live music to resume in the city of St. Louis. Eventually they started a series of concerts at an outdoor pop-up venue at the intersection of Cerre and Seventh Streets, called Lot.
“There are a lot of unknown risks running a business at this point, right? Nobody knew what to expect,” says Jameson. “But for us I had a really good team that took some care and we felt very confident. We had been around for a long time – I can’t even remember the schedules, but I think from March until we are August announced. ” planned all the time. “
Their efforts paid off, and the Jamo Presents team was able to put on 28 shows in the Lot in seven weeks, with a total of around 5,000 tickets sold. During this time there were numerous local and regional acts on stage, with performances by Tonina, Mvstermind, Dave Grelle, the Burney Sisters, the Funky Butt Brass Band and many others. Jamo Presents even has the distinction of being the first to bring a touring act back to town since it all shut down in the form of Andy Frasco & The UN’s show in October 2020.
With this hit series and a new partnership with City Foundry in which the advertising company booked socially distant shows in their interior during the colder months, Jameson is once again looking forward to taking the action outdoors. From April to June, the City Foundry will host a series of concerts on an open-air stage booked by Jamo Presents. The series will include appearances by NandoSTL, Neal Francis, the Floozies, Old Salt Union and a return trip by Andy Frasco, among others.
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Jameson says that compared to the dizzying confusion early last year, he and his team feel like they have things under control for this series. He looks forward to going back outside, where mask compliance enforcement is less painful.
“We can’t wait to be out again,” he says. “We did this exact floor plan before we went outside anywhere else. And besides, you don’t have to mask nearly as harshly when you’re in your pods when it’s outside.”
In addition to the Foundry series, Jameson has partnered with the Kranzberg Arts Foundation to book some shows in the Big Top tent in the Grand Center. Martin Sexton performed in late March, and Ghost Note performed in April, as did Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. Future shows in the books include a performance of Galactic on May 16.
And these big top events are only part of the picture for the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. According to Executive Director Chris Hansen, the group will continue their popular open-air series outside of the dark room in the Grand Center. A program of 40 weeks is already on the books for 2021. Highlights include concerts by Beth Bombara, Western States, Coco Soul, Short Round Stringband and many more.
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“Open Air is the longest-running concert series since the pandemic – we’ve brought over 100 bands to the stage since last July,” says Hansen. “We have certainly invited the audience to get back into the arts and we have been able to do so in a non-contact manner where there is absolutely no potential for exposure, artists are paid very well, and the audience has top notch art experiences. It was really successful and we will continue it at least until the end of September. “
According to Hansen, the open air series has not seen any community spread in any of the months it has been operating. That means no illness of the staff, no guest sickness, no calls from the health department. Hansen recognizes the diligence of his team regarding security measures as well as some useful technological solutions for the COVID-safe nature of the series.
“The reality is that nobody is more than three feet apart in the environment we have created. And our staff, the total table time someone would spend at your table dropping off food and drinks is within a minute you’re there all the time, “he explains. “I mean, you literally order everything in advance; you just drop it and go. So we’ve just created an environment where no one can be really close for long enough that there’s a problem. And we have one that is fully ventilated Maintaining space – even in winter, when we partially put walls back on the tent, we left six foot openings in at least four places around the tent and squeezed in fresh air heat from a maxi heater that sucks in fresh air, warms it up with diesel fuel and pushes it into the environment. So the whole area is ventilated all the time. “
While both Hansen and Jameson are happy with the setups they have designed for their respective outdoor concert spaces, everyone looks forward to booking indoors as soon as it is safe to do so. Hansen hopes they’ll be able to bring things back to the Dark Room for similar dinner-and-a-show packages like the Open Air series in the fall. Jameson hopes he can safely book shows with fewer restrictions when the weather turns cold again. However, they both recognize that the reality of the situation may require more patience.
In the meantime, the outdoor shows that everyone could offer were a welcome break from the drudgery of pandemic life.
“It’s not an easy moment. But we’ll stick with it and fight the fight,” says Jameson. “Until the city allows us to relax, we’ll be here.”
Tickets and more information about the City Foundry series can be found at jamopresents.com. Tickets and more for the open air series and events in the Big Top can be found at kranzbergartsfoundation.org.
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