Shine Music Festival concertgoer sending love to the band onstage (photo by Nikolai Puc’ Photography via Shine Music Festival)
In August, the Shine Music Festival—billed as a “booty shaking, progress making, radically accessible music event”—brought hundreds of concertgoers of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to Levitt Pavilion Denver’s expansive lawn to experience the healing power of music. Today we’re taking a closer look at this historic daylong celebration three years in the making and exploring some of the ways permanent Levitt venues across the country are working to improve the live music experience for people of all abilities.
A ‘radically-accessible’ music festival
Little did six-year-old Lacie and guitar-playing street performer Cliff Woodage know that their spontaneous jam session on the streets of Grimsby, England, would one day inspire a day of music, community and access across the Atlantic Ocean. When Shine Music Founder and ‘Inclusion Architect’ Shawn Satterfield stumbled across a 2018 YouTube video of Lacie, who is blind and autistic, hearing Woodage’s music on the street, Satterfield was struck by the young girl’s elated smile. “I know that smile” said Satterfield, “that’s the feeling I get when I’m at live music.” Time and again Satterfield had experienced live music’s ability to bring people together and create a palpable joy amongst artists and concertgoers alike. Reflecting on the barriers that often prevent people living with disabilities from experiencing that collective joy, Evergreen, Colo.-based Satterfield set to work bringing the Shine Music Festival to life—where people of all abilities could feel the shared joy of free, live music. Continue reading
Pictured from left to right: Flor De Toloache guitarrón player Yesi Reyes, Making Movies frontman Enrique Chi, and Quetzal lead singer Martha Gonzalez, performing on Levitt stages.
This week wraps up Hispanic Heritage Month, a monthlong celebration from September 15 to October 15, celebrating of the rich and complex histories, cultures and contributions of the 62.1 million Hispanics, Latinos and Latinx individuals who call this country ‘home.’ Today we’re highlighting three ways that past Levitt performers are harnessing the power of music to protect, uplift and empower some of the most vulnerable members of the group Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates. Continue reading
The Levitt AMP program is all about building community—through music, through partnerships and through engagement across sectors to help create more thriving and inclusive communities. Among the sectors touched by the Levitt AMP program are local businesses. Today, we’re shining the light on how organizers behind three Levitt AMP Music Series—Fort Smith, Ark., Stevens Point, Wis., and St Johnsbury, Vt.—have leveraged their respective music series to support local businesses and stimulate their creative economies while strengthening connections within their communities.
Legion Lake Park in Houston, Miss., the future site of the Levitt AMP Houston Music Series
The Levitt AMP Virtual Music Series continues tonight at 8pm ET / 5pm PT with a dynamic performance by husband and wife Americana/folk-indie duo Amy LaVere and Will Sexton, co-presented by the team behind the Levitt AMP Houston Music Series. No strangers to Levitt, LaVere and Sexton have graced the iconic Levitt Shell Memphis stage in their hometown multiple times. Recorded at the artists’ home, about two hours from Houston, Miss., tonight’s virtual concert will treat audiences to an intimate, eclectic and captivating evening of vocals, upright bass and guitar. Tune in at levittamp.org/virtual! Continue reading
Tonight at 8pm ET/5pm PT, tune in to a Levitt AMP virtual concert for a taste of what makes Monday nights so special in Utica, New York. Featuring performances by four talented artists—acclaimed singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Isaac French; new mellow rock collaboration Tree of Life, local rapper Leeky XIV featuring Eric Armitage; and award-winning blues legend Jimmy Wolf, this lively and eclectic evening celebrates the creative energy that’s transforming a ‘Rust Belt’ city in Upstate New York into a thriving hub for residents from across the globe. Tonight’s show is co-presented by the Levitt AMP Utica team and the nonprofit Utica Monday Nite, who’ve spearheaded the transformation of a littered triangular throughway in the heart of their city into a vibrant, inclusive and music-filled point of pride. Check it out tonight at levittamp.org/virtual!
Reviving a ‘Rust Belt’ community through inclusion and creativity
Located on the Mohawk River at the foot of the majestic Adirondack Mountains, Utica residents enjoy stunning geography, access to global culinary delights and neighbors from all over the world. Like many other former industrial hubs in the Northeast, Utica experienced decades of decline in the mid-20th century, losing about a third of its population after local factories closed. Yet new populations were soon to arrive with the 1981 founding of the nonprofit Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, which would change the face of the city by resettling more than 15,000 refugees from over 30 nations, increasing the city’s population to more than 60,000 and making the city home to the nation’s fourth largest concentration of refugees—including Somalis, Bosnians, Syrians, Sudanese and people from Myanmar. Today, nearly 20 percent of Utica’s population is foreign born with more than a quarter of the population speaking languages other than English (and over 40 languages spoken in the local high school!). People from all over the world have found a home and a welcoming space in Utica.
Tonight’s Levitt AMP virtual show brings the bright, buoyant sounds of Appalachia straight to you! Tune in to experience an incredible evening of music curated by the team behind the Levitt AMP Berea Music Series, including a performance by headlining act The Possum Queens. This all-female ‘Kentucky Old-Time’ quartet “got down the fiddle, rosined up the bow [and] dusted off the cobwebs” to record tonight’s lively virtual performance at Berea’s newly launched Rebel Rebel Studio and Lounge, a multi-use creative space co-founded by Levitt AMP Berea organizer Ali Blair with photographer Erica Chambers. The virtual concert will also feature local favorites Tyler Devall and Corey Shenk. Be sure to tune in at 8pm ET/5pm PT at levittamp.org/virtual!
A small town with trailblazing roots
Berea College students, faculty and staff joining 25,000 other demonstrators in the last phase of the March on Montgomery from Selma, Ala., on March 25, 1965; Photo courtesy of Berea College, Special Collections & Archives
Blair first crossed paths with The Possum Queens fiddler Anna Harrod at a local backyard bonfire, surrounded by the joyous live folk and bluegrass music of Berea College professors and student musicians. The trailblazing Berea College has shaped the surrounding community since it was founded in 1855 by minister and abolitionist John G. Fee, as the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. Fee and his colleagues put their lives on the line to remove barriers to higher education. Since 1892, the boldly inclusive institution has also provided a high-quality education to its students—many of whom are from underserved areas of Southern Appalachia—completely free of charge. Driven by the homegrown talent of students and their families, the school has developed a phenomenal artisan craft program, laying the groundwork for Berea’s wide-reaching reputation as the ‘Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky.’ Every year, lifelong learners flock to Berea from far and wide for the city’s summer ‘Festival of Learnshops’ and winter ‘Make it, take it, give it!”—both rooted in artisan craft workshops. Continue reading
Tune into tonight’s Levitt AMP virtual concert to experience the critically-acclaimed soulstress Julie Black, co-presented by the Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA) and the City of Ocala—the dynamic team behind the Levitt AMP Ocala Music Series. Recorded in collaboration with the Reilly Arts Center, as part of the new Reilly Digital Series, tonight’s concert celebrates the collective creativity, innovation and resilience of Ocala’s cultural sector.
Stitching Together ‘One Ocala’
Sign welcoming visitors to Ocala
Nestled in the heart of north central Florida’s ‘horse country,’ classic Florida charm thrives in the 60,429-person city of Ocala. Home to more horses than anywhere else in the country and the U.S. Equestrian Team’s official training site, many consider the Ocala/Marion County area to be the “Horse Capital of the World.” Located about 80 miles northwest of Orlando, Ocala is surrounded by freshwater streams and rolling hills, and just minutes away from ‘Florida’s Original Attraction,’ the scenic Silver Springs State Park—which boasts crystal clear 72-degree springs year-round.
Today, community leaders are working together to create ‘One Ocala’ after decades of disinvestment in the city’s historically Black neighborhoods created a tale of two very different Ocalas. The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 changed the face of West Ocala, transforming this once vibrant hub of local African American commerce and community life on West Broadway into a busy throughway—destroying homes, businesses, a hospital and other landmarks in the process. For decades, US Highway 301 stood as both a physical and social division between West Ocala and the city’s downtown, deepening cultural and economic divisions, as well. Continue reading
The Levitt AMP Virtual Music Series fun continues tonight with an intimate home studio performance featuring Iowan country/blues/folk/punk fusion sensation William Elliott Whitmore. Tune in to see why this 2019 Levitt AMP Earlham Music Series fan favorite packed more than 750 people into Earlham City Park last summer during the city’s inaugural Levitt AMP Earlham Music Series—the largest crowd the park had ever held! Tonight’s new virtual show will be filled with energy and heart, much like Earlham itself.
Photo courtesy of the City of Earlham
One-square mile of small town charm
Situated in an idyllic, rural setting about 30 miles west of Des Moines, the historic community of Earlham is home to 1,450 people where residents get to enjoy the pace, camaraderie and charm of a small town. Nostalgic and vibrant, this one-square mile community is home to both families who’ve lived there for generations and newer transplants seeking that “small town feel”—including many who work in Des Moines and reside in Earlham. Continue reading
Tonight, the Levitt AMP Virtual Music Series continues with a throwback to one of the most memorable nights of Levitt AMP Carson City’s 2019 season. Tune in to enjoy full concert footage of Tribal Celtic powerhouse The Wicked Tinkers delivering an exhilarating performance to more than 3,000 concertgoers from The Change Companies stage at the Brewery Arts Center. The virtual show celebrates Carson City’s communal effort to save a community treasure and transform an underused downtown into a thriving arts destination.
What a difference five years can make
Nestled just minutes from world famous Lake Tahoe, bustling Reno, historic Virginia City and the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range, Carson City has aptly been described as “the centerpoint of your Nevada experience.” Boasting exciting new opportunities for residents to work, play and connect, it’s no surprise that the city’s population of more than 55,000 is growing larger and more diverse. Five years ago, walking down Main Street in Nevada’s capital city would have felt like a different street altogether. The city had just started work on the last leg of a new freeway linking Reno and Carson City. This new stretch of road would go on to increase regional and national traffic flow, and decrease through-traffic congestion through the heart of downtown Carson City. This pivotal infrastructure change laid the groundwork for Carson City’s historic downtown to become a more visitor and resident-friendly destination. With significant changes underway, the City had also just approved redevelopment plans for the downtown area, but the arts were not yet a part of the revitalization strategy.
Historic photo of Carson Brewing Company; Courtesy of Nevada Historical Society
This summer, Levitt AMP communities coast to coast are bringing the joy of free, live music straight to you with the Levitt AMP Virtual Music Series! The 20-concert series co-presented by the Levitt Foundation launches tonight at 8pm EDT/5pm PDT with a one-of-a-kind evening curated, produced and presented by the Levitt AMP Galva team. The virtual show will include intimate performances and interviews with acclaimed homegrown artists Chicago Farmer and Edward David Anderson, along with footage from a newly released mini-documentary about the Levitt AMP Galva Music Series—giving viewers a taste of what makes the rural town of Galva, Ill., such a vibrant place to call ‘home’ and why supporting the area’s creative economy is so vital.
A community-driven effort, decades in the making
Nestled in Northwest Illinois, the 2,500-person community of Galva is one of many small rural communities that make up Henry County. Once home to an utopian-esque Swedish settlement, this historic and culturally-rich county has been shaped by agriculture, industry, Swedish artisan craft traditions, and, more recently…live music.
Bringing free, live music to Galva became a reality in 2018 with the inaugural Levitt AMP Galva Music Series, yet this community-wide effort has been decades in the making. For the past 30 years, the dedicated volunteers of the Galva Arts Council (GAC)—many of whom are still active—have worked together to position art as a community-building tool and have built a culture of volunteerism, laying the groundwork for the Levitt AMP Music Series to succeed. With robust experience rallying support for community arts experiences, like the launch of the GAC’s Coffeehouse Music Series in 1992, series organizer and Henry County native John Taylor saw the GAC as a natural fit to lead the Levitt AMP effort. Continue reading