A re you dreaming of warmer weather and live music?
Some venues in the state are starting outdoor shows next month, while others are planning for a busy summer season.
After taking a break for the month of February, the Stone Church Music Club on Granite Street in Newmarket is back with indoor entertainment this weekend.
There are two free inside shows this week: Chris Cyrus at 6 p.m. today (Thursday) and Paul Jarvis at 7 p.m Friday.
Dave Gerard and Senie Hunt will team up for a ticketed concert at 7 p.m. Saturday.
But the beginning of April, there will be outdoor entertainment every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Co-owners Michael and Cheryl Hoffman said their 2020 outdoor music series did well, running through December.
Over 200 people reached out to say they could hear the music, Michael Hoffman said. “We were serenading the town all of last year,” he said.
Capacity for outdoor events is currently at 90 people, thanks to the fact that Stone Church has permission to use the neighboring parking at Newmarket Historical Society.
“You get the fire barrels out and people come. We’re selling out those shows,” Cheryl Hoffman said.
Bands in this year’s lineup include Ghost of Paul Revere, Truffle, Vapors of Morphine and Soggy Po’ Boys.
Other venues in New Hampshire are working on ways to have a successful outdoor entertainment season once the winter weather leaves.
No more driving in
The Drive-In Live at Cheshire Fairgrounds in Swanzey has been rebranded as Northlands and will be moving away from drive-in concept they used in 2020.
“The cars were fun. They were really fun, because you felt like you were tailgating before a concert, but there were other issues. Cars absorb sound and cause sight-line issues,” Mike Chadinha, director of operations, said on Monday.
Last year the Drive-In series featured 34 shows, including concerts by Blue Oyster Cult, Allman Betts Band, Smith & Myers (of Shinedown) and Aaron Lewis. In all, about 54,000 people attended shows over the season.
Chadinha said this year they are increasing capacity from about 450 vehicles to 550 audience pods. Each will be 10 square feet and roped off from other pods, at a distance of 6 feet away from one another. The maximum capacity in a pod is six people.
There will also be full concessions with a beer garden and food truck.
“It moves us closer to be back in a more traditional concert feel,” Chadinha said.
The first round of bookings will be announced in mid-March, with performances running from mid-May through September.
Scott Hayward, owner of Tupelo Music Hall in Derry, said they are starting their second season with a drive-in concept for 75 vehicles in their parking lot.
“People like it because it is safe, and people just want to listen to music as well,” Hayward said. “I suspect our sales will be stronger than last year, but having said that, we sold at 75 percent last year.”
Hayward said when they can move inside again, they will pull the plug on the outdoor concept.
Tupelo can’t do both, Hayward explained, because the outdoor stage blocks the entrance to the venue.
Tupelo Music Hall starts its drive-in concert series May 1 and 2 with four shows by Foreigners Journey.
The schedule also includes a handful of noted guitarists — Jon Butcher Axis on May 29, Popa Chubby on June 11 and Johnny A on June 13. On June 26, ‘80s pop icon Tiffany takes the stage.
In Portsmouth, officials are working to develop consistent guidelines and messaging for the city’s arts venues.
Health Officer Kim McNamara said Portsmouth’s guidelines may be stricter than the state’s in order to reflect local circumstances. COVID-19 infection rates, local rates of vaccination and the ability to control crowd sizes all will be taken into account.
The Prescott Park Arts Festival in Portsmouth, which pumps an estimated $7.5 million into the local economy each season, was canceled in 2020.
The festival draws in nearly 250,000 people each year, who often eat and shop in town before or after shows.
Courtney Perkins, executive director of the arts festival, said their first shows typically start at the end of June when public schools are out of session. The venue offers a wide range of family entertainment.
Perkins said they are considering pod models and reservation systems for this summer.
“The park belongs to the city and the people of the city, so we have a set of guidelines we have to be within,” Perkins said during an interview last week.
A Blue Ribbon Arts and Nonprofits Committee meeting was held on Monday afternoon in Portsmouth. Perkins told the group that during a recent phone call with McNamara, questions were raised about what this sector of the economy needs to be viable.
“My sense is the city wants to fully understand the impact that these guidelines have on businesses, and when we are all looking to reopen, what’s that sort of minimum number that we need for our organization to make the work that we do viable,” Perkins said.
Perkins said another conversation with McNamara is scheduled for next week.