Concert Haul

A number of local music venues will be requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to attend shows starting later this month.

The Rialto Theatre, Club Congress, 191 Toole and the Fox Theatre are part of a group of Arizona venues that are taking the step by Sept. 20.

All four venues have reopened and are asking patrons to wear masks at upcoming indoor shows before the vaccination policy kicks into place.

“The Rialto Theatre Foundation is extremely excited for our incredible lineup of shows,” said Cathy Rivers, executive director of the Rialto Theatre Foundation. “But with that said, we feel it’s important to be a part of keeping our community safe. Those of us who can get vaccinated should, so we protect those in our community who cannot. We hope to see you at a show enjoying live music again while also taking safety measures to look out for all of our community.”

She added that people should be careful about carrying about their vaccine card.

“I personally recommend people don’t carry around their vaccine card,” Rivers said. “I would take a picture of it, put it in your wallet app on your phone, or make a photocopy of the card and keep that in your wallet.”

The Rialto has a wide range of performances in the coming weeks. Modest Mouse comes to town on Monday, Sept. 20; Jack Russell’s Great White is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 24; and hometown favorite Calexico will perform on Saturday, Sept. 25.

Dave Slutes, entertainment director at Hotel Congress, said concert goers would have to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to attend shows inside the legendary Club Congress, but not for shows on the outdoor patio. Slutes said Hotel Congress will continue to follow CDC guidance, as well as honoring artist requests regarding COVID protocol.

Slutes said there has been a lot of interest in the return of live music. Upcoming acts include Perfume Genius  on Thursday, Sept. 16 and a host of local acts.

“COVID aside, the artists have been eager to get back out there, tickets have been selling like hotcakes, people have been very eager to see live music again,” he said.

But he said there have been unexpected challenges, from the Delta wave to technical issues.

“Did you know that disco lights go bad if you don’t use them for 18 months?” Slutes said.

Fox Executive Director Bonnie Schock said the Fox decided to require proof of vaccination or a negative test because so many other venues are moving in that direction.

The packed fall season for The Fox includes Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on Sept. 11, Chris Issak on Sept. 25, Rickie Lee Jones on Sept. 26, Pat Metheny with James Francies & Joe Dyson on Oct. 5, Asleep at the Wheel on Oct. 8, Amy Grant on Oct. 24, Paula Pounstone on Oct. 28, Atlanta Rhythm Section and Firefall on Nov. 5, Tommy Emmanuel on Nov. 6 and Boney James on Nov. 7.

Schock says she’s “excited to get the venue sparkling and shining again, but at the same time we have some worry because we don’t have any control over what happens next.”

Fox staff and volunteers are required to be vaccinated and Schock urged audience members to get vaccinated before shows.

The CDC recently urged vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks indoors in public spaces because the Delta variant is highly contagious. COVID is making a comeback here in Pima County, which recently moved into the “high transmission” category, according to the CDC.

Schock said Tucson has a hunger for live music, adding this season’s sales are breaking records, which is welcome news for Schock after 18 months of zero revenue. The live entertainment industry was one of the hardest hit by COVID and Fox, Rialto and Hotel Congress had to lay off most of its operational staff.

The Fox and the Rialto are reopening with help from the Shuttered Venue Operations Grant from the Small Business Administration.

“I mean we wouldn’t have been able to consider reopening with the number of shows that we put on sale at this point with zero revenue,” Schock said. “It was absolutely essential to our ability to book artists and to prepare the venue.”

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