CADILLAC — Regardless of what's going on in politics, world affairs and other contentious areas of life, one thing that seems to bring most people together is a love of music, especially when it is performed live.
Unfortunately, gathering with others to enjoy a concert is out of the question right now; the risk of spreading coronavirus increases when people congregate in small areas, which is why many annual festivals, events and large concerts have announced they won't be happening this year.
For two decades, Tim Scully has been helping to organize a summer-long tour of professional musicians, with tour stops in Cadillac and Reed City.
In Cadillac, the tour stop at the Rotary Performing Arts Pavilion is called "Upbeat Cadillac" and in Reed City, the concerts take place at the Rambadt Park Bandstand and have been dubbed the "Reed City Crossroads Picnic Showcase." The tour also makes stops in several other Northern Michigan counties and features 10 bands showcasing a variety of musical genres, from jazz and blues to rock 'n roll.
Originally slated to begin June 21, Scully said given all the uncertainties surrounding public gatherings in Michigan, there's no way they could make that date.
"We wouldn't be safe starting when we thought we would," Scully said. "But we're going to start late, if we can."
In order to salvage this year's tour, Scully said their tentative plan is to shave four or five weeks off in order to give the state and public health authorities more time to prepare for the season ahead.
Instead of beginning June 21, their first show will be July 21, which means that several artists won't be able to perform this year, but Scully said they've already been invited to next year's tour.
"I feel for the musicians," Scully said. "They're hungry and they want to eat. These are second level musicians and most don't have second jobs. They're saying, 'please, please, please get us some work.' But safety is my main concern. It's about the music but really it's about the people."
Assuming that the state allows concerts to take place this summer, Scully said he's looking at several options for optimizing social distancing.
Scully said he's considered different ways to make the shows accessible from nearby parking areas, so a portion of the audience won't have to leave their vehicles. To achieve this, Scully said he's looking into the possibility of changing venues this year at some of the tour stops.
To make it easier for people to hear the music from their vehicles, Scully said he may use an FM transmitter to broadcast the performances through the radio, so those parked nearby will be able to tune in.
Although the tentative plan is to begin the tour on July 21, Scully said he'll likely make the final determination at the end of June, and may decide at that point to delay it another week.
Funded solely by donations from the community, Scully said he anticipates it may be more difficult to fundraise this year, given everything that is going on.
"Then again, sometimes when you get in trouble, people pick up the slack," Scully said. "I'm going to go ahead with fundraising and publicity. Right now it's a hope and a pipe dream but I think it's important to keep this thing going, or try to."
Donations to keep the series going can be made to made to: UpBeat Cadillac, 302 S. Mitchell St. Cadillac Michigan 49601. For information, call (231) 723-7500 or email email@example.com.
Tentative 2020 schedule of performers — all shows begin at 7 p.m.
July 23 — Tosha Owens with Bobbie Murray Allstars
July 30 — Planet D Nonet
Aug 6 — Bill Hyde's All Star NYC Quartet
Aug 13 — Robert Pace and Nature's Brew
Aug 20 — UTB-Ultimate Taste Band
Aug 27 — Jenna Mammina/Rolf Sturm and Friends
Reed City Crossroads Picnic Showcase
July 24 — Tosha Owens with Bobbie Murray Allstars
July 31 — Planet D Nonet
Aug 7 — Bill Hyde's All Star NYC Quartet
Aug 14 — Robert Pace and Nature's Brew
Aug 21 — UTB-Ultimate Taste Band
Aug 28 — Jenna Mammina/Rolf Sturm and Friends