TROY – This time last year, community concerts like Albany’s Live at Five, Troy’s Rockin’ on the River and Saratoga’s On the Roof at the Tang Museum were just a few of the free concerts available almost any night of the week and in every town. Free music was abundant, fun and it united communities.
This summer, if you want to experience live music the place to be is the Jericho Drive-In, watching performers from inside your car and listening to the music from your car radio. Oh yeah, ....forget free.
Despite having so many new delivery platforms, at least within the entertainment industry, the theme is “Everything old is new again.”
Within a couple of weeks of each other, both the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and Proctors announced concerts at Jericho Drive-In at 21 Jericho Road in Glenmont.
Both organizations invite the audience to stay and watch a companion film. Indeed, there is a dedicated attempt to link the music and the theme of the film.
Next Thursday, July 9, Troy Music Hall is collaborating with radio station WEXT to present the brother-sister group Jocelyn & Chris at the Jericho. They are a hot, young duo who have already had a Number 1 hit on Billboard’s Jam Bands Top 30 list; as well as having three consecutive singles that reached high numbers within Billboard’s Top 40.
The companion film is “Yesterday.” The film has the cute premise that a singer-songwriter wakes up in a world in which, to everyone else, the Beatles never existed. He starts singing their songs and becomes a sensation. It is a 2019 release and has the impressive credential of being directed by Danny Boyle.
Jon Elbaum, the Executive Director of Troy Music Hall, calls the duo “stars of the future.” He says they have definitely been on his radar for a while. “I think when people start returning to indoor spaces they will be performing to large crowds, everywhere.”
Troy Music Hall just announced another concert, ”The Wheel" for Tuesday July 21 at 8 p.m. The Wheel is a Grateful Day tribute band, and the film which will be announced at a later date.
Proctors, who is collaborating with radio station TRY, is presenting a more ambitious program. They are offering five Wednesday night concerts, starting Wednesday July 8 and running through August 5. Following the entertainment there will be a film offered that attempts to be a more specific link to the music of the evening.
Though the series runs five weeks, the content seems to be geared towards a different demographic each week.
For instance, the opening band on July 8 is the Albany-based Oldies Show that specializes in playing the music from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Their set precedes “American Graffiti,” a 1973 coming of age film set in the 60s. Go Boomers.
The July 22 event appears to be more family-oriented. It features the music of Little Mermen, a New York City cover band that plays Disney hits. They perform before a showing of the Disney film, “Beauty and the Beast.” Imagine teacups dancing on screen while kids sing in the car.
On July 29, there is more nostalgia with a performance by “Tusk: the Ultimate Fleetwood Mac Tribute.” It’s followed by the film “Almost Famous” about a 15-year old budding journalist who covers the tour of an up and coming band for Rolling Stone.
A more serious connection between performance and film is offered on August 5, when Reflections: a Motown Tribute Ensemble, performs before the film “Lady Sings the Blues.” The film, which stars Diana Ross, is a tragic tale about the sad life of blues great Billie Holiday.
The four offerings are an attempt to serve a portion of the population with an alternative to digital entertainment. However, few seem bold or adventurous.
The only night of the five scheduled that offers a hope of adventure is July 15 when “Into the Floyd,” a tribute band, performs Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” as the soundtrack to the film “The Wizard of Oz.” That could be dark and memorable.
It is understandable how venues are trying to adapt to non-traditional spaces to offer new experiences. No one deludes themselves into thinking they are creating the same type of gathering that makes concert going a communal experience.
And we should applaud all efforts to bring music to the people. However, this Drive-In Concert venue - with a film bonus seems a challenge. Originally, social distancing regulations force people to remain in the car. However, a recent change permits people to be outside the car, providing masks are worn.
But it still tends to sound a bit like a costly version of Live Zoom, but live is live. I guess at this stage of the pandemic, live anything beats sitting in front of a computer for another night.
Things are changing daily, whether is be new shows or social distancing regulations Keep in contact with websites both the purchase tickets and stay up-to-date. Contact troymusichall.org and proctors.org.
Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.
The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.