LAYTON — This weekend, the Davis Arts Council will host its first live concert since the coronavirus pandemic basically shut down all live performances four months ago.
The free concert will feature singer/actor Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 19, in the Kenley Amphitheater, 403 N. Wasatch Drive.
A Baltimore native who now lives in Salt Lake City, Darby-Duffin performs a mix of jazz standards, R&B, soul and funk. She’ll be accompanied by a pianist at Sunday’s concert. In addition to performing concerts throughout the area, Darby-Duffin has appeared in a number of regional theater productions.
“We’re excited. This is our first-in person concert,” said Davis Arts Council executive director Tessa Vaschel. “We showed some movies at Kenley, and we’ve done some virtual concerts, but this will be our first live concert since the shutdown.”
Vaschel said the arts council had hoped to stage this concert back in June, but Darby-Duffin had a “logistical conflict” at that time. Now, in July, the country is in the midst of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Still, Vaschel believes they can put on a safe, successful concert.
“The only reason we feel comfortable at all with this is that it’s an outside event, and that’s what was indicated was the safest thing — to be outside, to wear masks and limit close contact with others in the audience,” she said.
Vaschel said the outdoor venue can accommodate up to 1,800 people, but for this concert they have capped it at 500.
“Every other row is closed,” she said of the fixed seating at the front of the amphitheater.
Vaschel said they’ll also maintain a three-seat buffer between individual groups on each occupied row.
For those seated on the grass behind the seats, venue volunteers will be encouraging groups of people to remain socially distanced.
Face coverings are “highly encouraged,” according to Vaschel, and staff and volunteers at the concert will be passing out free masks for those who want them. All event staff and volunteers will also be wearing masks, and hand-sanitizing stations will be maintained at the gate as well as inside the venue.
Vaschel said they will accommodate walk-up audience members on the evening of the concert as long as the amphitheater hasn’t reached the 30% capacity set by organizers.
There’s a chance — depending on what happens with the virus — that the Darby-Duffin concert could be the only one held this year, according to Vaschel.
“I can’t say if we’ll be able to do one of these again this summer,” she said. “We’re not kicking off any type of series with this concert. We’d love to do more later in the summer, but the situation is changing so rapidly.”
When Davis Arts Council first started offering the occasional outdoor movies at Kenley Amphitheater last month, one of the things organizers were trying to gauge was audience compliance.
“Part of what we’ve been keeping an eye on is how patrons were reacting to these events, and if they were able to follow the guidelines given,” Vaschel said. “Because at the end of the day, if we can’t stay safe, it’s just not worth it.”
Although admission is free to Sunday’s concert, tickets are required. Tickets will be available beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, July 17, at davisarts.org or 801-546-8575.
Davis Arts Council officials are confident they can pull off an entertaining concert in relative safety during these difficult times.
“We’ve been working closely with the health department and city throughout this,” Vaschel said. “The health and safety standards we’re using are much more aggressive and do much more than what the technical letter of the law requires. This event will be as safe as we can possibly make it.”