Eye On KELOLAND: Levitt in your living room


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — This summer was supposed be a big crescendo for The Levitt at the Falls. Instead, COVID-19 has brought a coda to its planned second season.

COVID-19 safety guidelines are shutting down many concert venues all across the nation. All types of musicians are either postponing or canceling their tours, due to the virus. The Levitt at the Falls is making big changes to its sophomore year in Sioux Falls. The Levitt will now bring the music to you.

There’s nothing like being together with your friends, a warm summer night, and a great song you don’t want to end. Last year, the Levitt at the Falls brought us 30 free concerts at the outdoor downtown venue. Spooncat was one of those bands that played in front of thousands.

“The crowd was, the energy was good. It was more a visual thing than being in a club,” Jeremy Hegg, Spooncat, said.

“Doing this is a singular mission, singular act performing. So, you’re all there for a common purpose. So, that’s pretty rewarding,” Jon Hegg, Spooncat, said.

This year promised a full season of 50 free concerts. However, here is another way we’re all paying the price due to COVID-19.

“We had such an incredible year at the Levitt last year, that it’s hard to think about pivoting, but that’s what we’re ready to do. Because we know we need to to keep everybody safe,” Nancy Halverson, executive director, said.

Since having crowds of thousands of people would go against social distancing guidelines, The Levitt at the Falls will put the start of its season on hold and pivot to weekly online shows through June and July. The series is called Levitt in Your Living Room.

“It’ll be a digital platform where we have private interviews with the artist that would be on our stage. You’ll see them in their COVID environment, performing solo. And you’ll see cuts of their favorite concerts,” Halverson said.

This will give you the chance to stream performances at home, while still allowing you to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Have your fire pit going. Put your TV on outside. I think it’s going to be great,” Halverson said.

Levitt Board member Vaney Hariri will host the series.

“I’ll help bring the show along, connecting with artists. Finding out what goes into the songs they create. That’s what’s really special, being able to hear the music, but also being able to understand what’s behind the music,” Hariri said.

Hariri knows what it’s like to stand in front of thousands. He performed at the Levitt last summer, and says this series is for musicians, too.

“The fans will get a great look, but I really think about young aspiring musicians getting the opportunity to have access to this kind of thinking that normally they don’t. I get excited for what that might mean for us and our community,” Hariri said.

Logistically, Halverson says it was necessary to adapt the summer schedule to an e-concert series for the first part of the season.

“We had a slate of artists from Australia and Ireland and all those tours have fallen apart with so many venues having to close because of the virus,” Halverson said.

If safety guidelines relax and conditions improve, Halverson says the Levitt could return to normal in August and September. Board members will monitor and adjust based on what happens. Halverson says using an online platform could become a permanent feature to how the Levitt brings you music. The Levitt is adapting in other ways. If safety guidelines persist, Halverson says you could see the venue host drive-in concerts. The Levitt is also planning “Levitt in Your Neighborhood” this fall, an artist residency program to bring music to smaller groups in the Sioux Falls area community.

Brady: “In a way, is it kind of reassuring or amazing to realize we can adapt music and art to bring it into people’s homes? We don’t have to just quit all of the things we love and all of the things that are good for our souls.”

Halverson: “Once we build out how to do these things, they’re not going to go away. It just adds to our arsenal of ways we can deliver great live music to our community,” Halverson said.

Rearranging a familiar melody isn’t easy.

“It’s unfortunate we can’t do it the way we want to do it because, Lord knows, I want to be around those people. I want to feel that energy. I want to see out into that crowd. I want to see out to the stage. But, what can come from this, is the ability to create those moments in the best way we can,” Hariri said.

The song may sound a little different, but it doesn’t have to end.

“Music has been a part of who we are as a civilization forever and that’s not going to change. And I think we do, we look for peace, we look for healing, and we look for joy in music. And we want to continue to deliver that,” Halverson said.

The concert series begins this month.

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