Jake Owen, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Earth, Wind & Fire: Freeman Arts 2021 season announced
The Freeman Arts Pavilion revealed its 2021 lineup Thursday, introducing oodles of national headliners including Earth, Wind & Fire and Lynyrd Skynyrd, along with country star Jake Owen and Fitz & The Tantrums.
The Selbyville venue opens its 14th season with Kashmir: The Live Led Zepplin Show on June 17.
Other top acts on tap for this season include Fitz & The Tantrums, Black Violin, Train, Indigo Girls, Kathleen Madigan, Steve Earle and Los Lobos, Amos Lee, REO Speedwagon, ABBA, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Blackberry Smoke, Straight No Chaser, The Commodores, Jamey Johnson and Leslie Odom Jr.
Tickets for performances through July 31 will go on sale at 10 a.m. April 22. The remaining performances will go on sale at a later date to be announced.
The Freeman Stage found success with pod seating last year. It has expanded and is now known as the Freeman Arts Pavilion.
The new venue can accommodate up to 550 seating pods, with four patrons in each pod.
The $27 million complex will seat over 4,000 patrons, with 1,100 of those seats under a roof. This year an audience capacity of about 2,200 people, which is about 50% of Freeman Arts venue capacity, is expected, Freeman Arts executive director Patti Grimes told Delaware Online/The News Journal.
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There will be contactless entry and cashless concessions for Freeman Arts shows. Masks will be required upon entry, exit and moving around the venue. Patrons also will bring their own chairs to all performances.
Big names are back, but touring might not be pretty.
This year’s season will see a return of national acts, something that was lacking in its 13th season, due to the start of the pandemic, which limited the arts venue to recruiting only local and regional artists.
Mark Fields, executive director of The Grand in Wilmington, said touring this year might be messy for performers because the pandemic presents a host of logistical issues.
“Routing,” for example, is an industry term used to describe the way national performers tour from city to city. The goal is for artists to create a tour schedule that allows them to play about five to six shows a week.
It’s important they select cities that will take them less than a day to drive between. They also need to carve out time to do soundchecks, make pit stops, get food and lodge at a hotel.
“They’ll perform in Wilmington on Friday night, then they’ll go to Baltimore or Washington, D.C., on Saturday, and then Richmond, Virginia, on Sunday night,” Fields to the News Journal, describing what a route could look like.
But routing is complicated by the pandemic because every state doesn’t follow the same COVID-19 guidelines. For example, last month Texas reopened, yet Delaware is on lockdown.
It’s been hard for national performers to tour because some venues are still closed or at reduced capacity. That would cause artists to lose money because they’d still have to pay for their crew every night, as well as hotels, food, gas and a tour bus if they have one.
And even if the country were completely reopened, some artists might not feel comfortable touring yet.
“You’re coming in contact with a whole different group of strangers every day – the crew at the theater, the people in the audience — but also the people at the restaurants where you had to eat in,” Fields said. “It’s really high risk for an artist to go on tour during a pandemic.”
‘We will remain flexible’ for artists
Grimes recognizes her artists are facing unprecedented challenges this summer.
“As we work with local, regional and national touring artists, we will remain flexible as they navigate the logistics of tours, which may allow us to add artists to our rosters as those tours continue to come together,” Grimes added.
Sam Blumin, general manager of The Queen Wilmington, said he anticipates national artists will be a little cheaper to book during the pandemic.
The Queen plans to bring back national acts on its main stage around the fourth quarter.
“I think because of the pandemic and with how limited artists have been financially, I think we can swing booking some larger artists than we normally would’ve,” Blumin said.
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The Freeman Arts has become the latest venue to give concertgoers something new to look forward to this summer. This fresh lineup comes in the wake of major festivals like Firefly and Bonnaroo announcing their returns this fall.
But the nonprofit Freeman Arts will launch much sooner than those events, offering folks a laundry list of good excuses to get out of the house this summer.
“The mission of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation has been to provide access to the arts since its inception,” Grimes said. “We worked diligently to continue that mission in 2020 and are thrilled to be able to present a robust season of diverse arts programming as we present our 14th season at our new venue, Freeman Arts Pavilion.”
“As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, our top priority remains the health and safety of our staff, patrons and the artists,” Grimes said.
Freeman Arts lineup
Headliners: Indigo Girls on June 18 The Mavericks on June 25, Jake Owen on June 26, Clint Black on July 2; Don McLean on July 3; Fitz & The Tantrums on July 10; Grace Potter on July 11; Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes on July 16; Amos Lee on July 23; comedian Kathleen Madigan on July 24; REO Speedwagon on July 27; Jamey Johnson on July 29; Leslie Odom Jr., on July 30; Straight No Chaser on July 31; Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on Aug. 7; Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Aug. 8, ABBA The Concert on Aug. 12; Black Violin on Aug. 13; Train on Aug. 14; Tower of Power on Aug. 19; Foreigner on Aug. 21; Steve Earle and Los Lobos on Aug. 26; The Commodores on Aug. 27; Melissa Etheridge on Aug. 28; Blackberry Smoke on Sept. 10; Lynyrd Skynyrd on Sept. 17 and Earth, Wind & Fire on Sept. 25.
Crowd favorites: Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, the First State Ballet and Brown Box Theatre Project. The Young Audience Series, sponsored by the PNC Foundation, will take place every Saturday morning throughout the season.
Additional standouts: Kashmir: The Live Led Zepplin Show on June 17; Austin Colby and Caroline Bowman will return with “Broadway Under the Stars: Stage and Screen Edition,” on June 24; Yacht Rock Revue on July 1; Choir! Choir! Choir!, an interactive performance sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, on July 8; EagleMania — The World's Greatest Eagles Tribute on July 22; Sonia De Los Santos on Aug. 11; Tartan Terrors on Aug. 18; The Bronx Wanderers on Sept. 4; and A1A — The Official and Original Jimmy Buffett Tribute Show on Sept. 11.
Freeman Arts Pavilion, 31806 Lakeview Drive, Selbyville; freemanarts.org; (302) 436.3015
Andre Lamar is the features/lifestyle reporter. If you have an interesting story idea, email Andre Lamar at email@example.com.