Concerts and festivals may be cancelled throughout the country this summer, but the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is bringing live music to Cleveland on its outdoor stage, while adding precautions to keep visitors and artists safe.The Live and Local series features Cleveland-area artists who specialize in pop, blues and rock and roll. Though the temperature checks, distanced seating and ticket reservation system might not feel quite like a pre-pandemic concert, the experience of live, in-person music is essential, says Rock & Roll Hall of Fame CEO Greg Harris.
“Having a safe opportunity to gather to hear other people expressing themselves through live music rather than through a screen or a phone is a real need,” he says. “We featured a lot of local artists that have not played since March, so it's a chance for the musicians to have an audience.”
The lineup, which runs from July 2 to August 22, features nationally touring acts from Cleveland alongside local favorites. Austin Walkin’ Cane, who performs this Thursday, is a nationally recognized blues artist from Cleveland, while Madeline Finn, who played on July 4, is a former American Idol finalist who specializes in folk, piano ballads and indie rock. Other highlights include Moises Borges’s Brazilian jazz on July 23 and The Shootouts, a Western swing and country music band, on August 8. See the full lineup here.
“We focus on original artists playing original music,” Harris says. “It's not about trying to recreate another band or be a tribute act, it’s about original, authentic music in Northeast Ohio. Rock and roll is a broad net. We look for a balance of styles.”
Though tickets must be reserved in advance, the shows are free, Harris says, to bring people live music that is both safe and accessible. Musicians tell him playing in front of a crowd again is fulfilling, while audience members say they are pleased at the chance to have some human contact — even if from a distance. Other outdoor events happening at the Rock Hall this summer include a lunchtime live series and a yoga event.
“There’s an incredible life affirming power to hearing great live music, and that's been missing for the last three months,” Harris says. “There’s been some great digital deliveries, but there’s a power in live, and we’re able to deliver it on this intimate scale in our plaza safely.” 1100 E. Ninth St., Cleveland, 216-781-7625, rockhall.com