The Levitt AMP Fort Smith Music Series originally planned for summer 2020 will kick off May 13, allowing music lovers the chance to experience a diverse roster of music in an outdoor setting along the Arkansas River.
The series was originally planned for July through September of 2020, but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were nervous about the virus. It was still in the early stages of (the pandemic) and we wanted to make sure we were keeping everyone safe, keeping our volunteers safe,” said Talicia Richardson, 64.6 Downtown executive director. “There was a lot we didn’t know, and then there was PPE (personal protective equipment). We had not budgeted for that.”
64.6 Downtown received a grant from the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation to bring 10 free, family friendly concerts to Riverfront Park in downtown Fort Smith. That grant allowed for a partnership between the foundation, 64.6 Downtown and the city of Fort Smith to bring free, accessible and inclusive music to the community, Richardson said. With more knowledge about COVID, all state residents over the age of 16 eligible for the COVID vaccine and loosened restrictions, organizers felt confident the concerts could now proceed in a way that is safe and fun for the entire community.
“Now we know more about how the community will react. We know they will wear masks and do what is needed to be safe for everyone,” Richardson.
Though Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced in February that events at outdoor venues would not have to submit a safety plan to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), organizers of the music series had already presented a plan to both the ADH and the city of Fort Smith. Fort Smith requires a plan for outdoor events until April 23.
“We have a plan A and plan B. We will continue to monitor events and requirements,” Richardson said.
The concerts will have one designated entrance and one designated exit. Depending on regulations, those attending will be spaced six or three feet apart from parties not in their household, and organizers are asking everyone to wear masks.
LEVITT BACKGROUND, SCHEDULE
64.6 Downtown received a 2020 bridge grant created by the Levitt Foundation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic last summer that allowed it to host a one-day mobile concert tour July 23 in Fort Smith. The organization also hosted a virtual concert July 2.
The Levitt AMP Fort Smith Music Series will feature multiple genres of music including jazz, R&B, soul, Brazilian, blues, Americana and Norteño, noted the news release. Free concerts will be held every Thursday from May 13 to July 15 at the Riverfront Park, 121 Riverfront Drive in Fort Smith. The park will open at 6 p.m. with the headliner starting at 7 p.m.
“We will be talking to the city. The amphitheater is the ideal place to have this to allow the performer to have the coziness of the closeness of the audience without it being too close. But if we have to have more distancing, we will work with the city to design a plan,” Richardson said.
Following is the planned schedule.
• May 13: Genine Latrice Perez
Perez pulls on musical influences of the 1930s-50s and captures the spirit of that live sound with her elegance, fun and excitement in a jazz and R&B atmosphere, the 64.6 website states.
• May 20: Conjunto Nueva Alianza
Originally from San Luis Potosí, Alianza bringing the sounds of northern Mexico to Fort Smith through traditional Norteño music.
• May 27: Chris Cameron
An Arkansas favorite, Cameron blends guitar virtuosity with genuine, heartfelt vocals.
• June 3: Southern Avenue
The group is a 2020 Grammy nominee and boundary breaking Memphis combo that carries the Southern soul legacy into the 21st century.
• June 10: JD Clayton
Clayton is a singer-songwriter born and raised in Fort Smith and based in Nashville who blends traditional Americana.
• June 17: Rodney Block Collective
The quartet is composed of lead trumpet, piano, bass, and drums, with extra vocalist as needed. Block, a classically trained instrumentalist, performs a unique blend of traditional jazz, gospel, hip-hop, Bebop, funk and soul.
• June 24: Henna Roso
The musical collective is dedicated to fighting hunger in America. The band merges various styles and influences combining elements of funk, jazz and soul creating a unique, yet approachable musical experience.
• July 1: Allison Grace
The Fort Smith musician was a 2020 blind audition contestant of NBC’s The Voice whose band performs a “unique blend of blue-eyed soul and smooth, adult contemporary.”
• July 8: yet to be announced
• July 15: Sambadá,
The Brazilian group blends percussion-based styles of South and Central American samba and salsa with the funk.
“In 2020, we made our ideal wish list for diverse artists who perform all types of music. We are very excited that 97% of our wishlist have come on board and we have been able to work with them on schedules,” Richardson said. “We are pleased with the variety of artists we have. We have a Brazilian group California, local talent, regional talent. It is very exciting.”
The Levitt AMP Fort Smith Music Series is supported in part by the Mortimer & Mimi Levitt Foundation, a private foundation that partners with towns and cities across America to activate underused public spaces, creating thriving destinations where people of all ages and backgrounds come together through the power of free, live music.
In 2019, Fort Smith was selected as one of 20 towns to receive a $25,000 matching grant to present the Levitt AMP Fort Smith Music Series. The Levitt’s program of permanent outdoor music venues presents more than 50 free concerts yearly in large metropolitan areas, but these grant awards are specifically designed for smaller cities. 64.6 Downtown was chosen as finalist in October 2019. Online voting from Nov. 1-20 of that year made them a winner. Additional support for the series is provided by the city of Fort Smith and The Dream Alliance Foundation.
Link here for more details about the concert series