Kings Beach Music Series goes virtual, bringing music to the people
Special to the Sierra Sun
HOW TO HELP
Making a donation helps support North Tahoe Business Association in keeping live music alive in Kings Beach.
Summers in Tahoe are typically filled with free outdoor music concerts nearly every day of the week. Local bands, national acts and Grammy winners fill the lineups on the beaches, at the ski resorts and in city parks.
The beginning of June typically kicks off most of the summer’s music series, but this is not a “typical” summer. It’s been pretty quiet the past month, only Heavenly Ski Resort, a few restaurants and small businesses are providing live outdoor music.
But in Kings Beach, the North Tahoe Business Association decided to do things a little differently. On June 26, it kicked off the “Music on the Beach” series, “Virtual Vibes 2020.”
Alyssa Reilly, the association’s managing director, said she was dead set on not canceling the music this summer and asked her board to think creatively about how they could pull it off. Meanwhile, other towns and resorts around the lake were posting these cancellation of events due to COVID-19 on their websites.
“Truckee Downtown Merchants Association cancels 2020 Truckee Thursday Event Due to COVID-19 Pandemic.”
“The Concerts at Commons Beach team continues to monitor the rapidly changing circumstances of COVID19 & its impact on the 2020 summer music series.”
“The start of Bluesdays has been postponed to August 25.”
Reilly refused to put things on hold or shut them down completely.
“When COVID and all that happened and we lost fireworks I thought, oh my gosh we can’t lose music also,” she said. “We’ve got to do something for our community.”
During the shutdown, Reilly has been watching music on TV and streaming music from friends who are musicians in Alabama. She thought, “Huh, we can do this.”
She contacted the music technician, Sean “Chango” O’Brien, who had lost most of his income sources because of the shutdown, and just when he was growing his audio engineering business, Chango Presents (http://www.changopresents.com).
One month prior to the shutdown, O’Brien said, he left his job as a DJ at 101.5 KTKE radio because he was too busy with other gigs and during the shutdown he found himself looking for new ways to do business. He welcomed the challenge of creating a virtual music on the beach.
With the support of North Tahoe Business Association, the community and a Small Business Administration loan, Chango Presents was able to keep the business afloat during the shutdown. O’Brien added video production to his repertoire and taught himself how to stream audio and shoot live video, which came in handy when Reilly asked him if he could live stream the Kings Beach music series.
“Chango has been our savior,” said Reilly.
Brad Johnson, general manager at North Tahoe Public Utility District, offered support for the idea and permitted the use of the North Tahoe Event Center. With the support of State Parks and help from the business community they were able to pull it off, with June 26 serving as the launch of Music on the Beach going live with the first of five shows in the Virtual Vibes Summerlong Concert Series (http://www.northtahoebusiness.org/music-on-the-beach).
“We have thrown together a music series, in what would normally take six months to do, in four weeks,” Reilly said. “I couldn’t do it. My staff member Kerry (Andras), who’s also in one of the bands, him and our marketing team … Everybody just went full speed ahead and we got it done.”
Reilly said though the series will be a shorter season, they’ve focused on local bands. All are local except one, she said, but “Vokab Kompany” members were born and raised on Tahoe’s south shore and are now living in San Diego.
“We’re hosting them inside the event center, no one’s available to view, but in the background we will have the Lake Tahoe sunset and it will be a live show,” Reilly said.
The show will be broadcast 6-8:30 p.m. (July 10 and July 24, as well as Aug. 7 and Aug. 28) on KTKE 101.5, on social media, YouTube and North Tahoe Business Association’s website. Some of their partners and other organizations are going to share it.
SUPPORTING THE SHOW
“We’ll have a larger viewership than we ever expected,” Reilly said. “We’re a nonprofit and we’ve always asked for donation when we do music. We rely on donations at the events. Our events are where we fundraise and without our events this year we are working really hard to make that up in other ways.
“We are paying our bands in full, for what we signed the contracts for. We can’t bring the people to the music so we’re bringing the music to the people.”
During the shutdown, the association has been working overtime to support businesses from Crystal Bay down to Carnelian Bay, Reilly said. They’ve helped them secure loans and connect those in need with other sources of funding by pledging to, “continue to be on the forefront of information and to disseminate that information regularly.”
There’s a COVID-19 page on their website (northtahoebusiness.org/covid19) that has information on programs that support the local businesses.
The North Tahoe Business Association also launched a gift card program adding a purchasing portal to their website.
Other organizations working in partnership with the association have made huge impacts, including the Boys and Girls Club.
“The way they have fed our community over and over every night has just been incredible,” she said. “The Tahoe Community Foundation put together this incredible fund and started helping and supporting all of our nonprofits … (and the) Sierra Community House is another one that has stepped up for our community members and helping support people through all of this.”
Michelle Gartner is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the Sierra Sun.
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