The Summer Performance Project Committee has worked hard for the past several months to arrange for performances in various Portland parks, and are very pleased to announce that Part 1 of the project is complete!

Portland Parks & Recreation hosted ten gigs for the CBA, and we were able to pay the 22 musicians who played. The participating musicians were Julie Amici Trio, Ken Brewer, Joanne Broh Trio, (with Kathryn Grimm and Sonny Hess), John Bunzow (with Denny Bixby), Mary Flower, Robbie Laws, Mojo Holler, Jenny Moriarty Experience, Lauren Sheehan Trio, LaRhonda Steele Trio.

This project came about because of the COVID-19 shutdowns, and the pandemic continues to affect our lives, our livelihoods, and this project. When we started planning this together with Portland Parks & Rec, we all expected to be in Phase 2 when we started doing the lunchtime gigs for families arriving to pick up food.

Unfortunately, pandemic numbers persist and Portland remains in Phase 1, so we had to follow health directives and change up our plans. Our careful ‘lottery’ system of scheduling performances went partway out the window as Parks & Rec mandated over half the gigs be struck off the schedule.  Many thanks to the musicians who hung in there through so many schedule change-ups!

We also want to recognize all the volunteers and the volunteer committee, including Richard LaChapelle, Jeanette Aglipay, and Belinda Clark, who offered their assistance when we put out a call for it. Unfortunately, we had to put them all on standby in keeping with the health directives that limited the number of people involved. We will be calling on them again when we are ready to schedule the Part 2 performances, though!

Our intention was to be able to share the schedule with members, friends and family, so those who weren’t comfortable going inside venues to hear live music could join us at the parks.  Because we had to severely reduce the number of bodies present for the gigs — which included Parks staff and volunteers, their partners on site, the band members, AND the families arriving for the program — we couldn’t share the locations with our members.

As it was, the committee members slipped into each park ahead of the Free Lunch + Play program opening to set up a spot to perform, erecting a canopy and providing power source, PA, and water if required. Often, it became necessary to slip away from the area in order to keep the numbers under the maximum permitted. The benefit of the same few of us being at all the events was greater efficiency; we could pack up the site in less than 10 minutes!

Circumstances around the pandemic drove our timeline for Part 1 and will continue to determine how and what we can do for Part 2. We still plan on scheduling gigs for the remaining musicians — with Friends and Family invited — and holding these at less-risky ‘safer’ locations. However, we don’t yet know when we’ll be able to do that. We reassess and weigh our options weekly, daily even, and will let everyone know the What, When and Where’s as soon as we figure it all out. In the meantime, we ask that you please bear with us.

The performers pictured in the collage are (clockwise): LaRhonda Steele, Julie Amici, Joanne Broh, Lauren Sheehan, John Bunzow, Mojo Holler, Mary Flower, Ken Brewer, Robbie Laws, Jenny Moriarty Experience. Many more artists yet to come!

📷 Photos by Marie Walters