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Headliners Music Hall Cancels Parking Lot Concerts As Covid-19 Cases Surge

A Tom Petty Tribute Concert in Louisville in 2017.
Photo by J. Tyler Franklin
WFPK's NYE concert at Headliners in 2015.

Headliners Music Hall in Louisville has canceled a series of concerts that were supposed to take place in the parking lot next to the venue. 

The three outdoor shows, featuring Fleetwood Mac tribute band Back2Mac, an album release concert for local act Jaye Jayle and SMTN To Do, would have been Friday through Sunday. But Headliners has called the concerts off, citing “public safety concerns” with the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Kentucky and Jefferson County Public Schools announcing it would continue to keep students at home with nontraditional instruction, also known as NTI.

In a statement, the Headliners team wrote that they were “deeply concerned about interacting with others during these unprecedented times,” but had planned these concerts because they “just couldn't handle the silence anymore!”

Organizers had arranged for tables set up in pods to allow for social distancing among concertgoers, plentiful hand sanitizer stations and temperature checks.

“Part of our responsibility in running these events safely is to take into consideration factors outside of our control that overwhelm our ability to protect customers, artists and staff,” the statement said, signed “Your Headliners Music Hall Family.” 

Headliners will offer “instant refunds” for all of the concerts, according to the statement, which could take up to two weeks to process.

“We cannot thank you enough for your ongoing love and support of Headliners Music Hall.  We will survive and thrive on the other side of this.”

Co-owner Billy Hardison, who is also co-founder of Production Simple and a former marketing and special events coordinator for Louisville Public Media, said in an email that these concerts were never intended to be “significant money makers for us.” 

“We saw this as an opportunity to say ‘Hey, we miss you!’ before winter… So, doing them or not doing them doesn’t change our financial outlook.  It was about community more than anything else,” he said.  

They have no plans to reschedule these three concerts or host any other outdoor shows before spring 2021. 

“The good news is that we have a solid model to build upon for the spring until we get the all clear to go back inside,” Hardison said.  

Hardison said they’re finding other avenues of support, like local and national grants to apply for, and they’ll holding out hope to host their summer season next year at Iroquois Park, “and elsewhere outside and later inside at Headliners and Paristown are all shaping up to be a banger!”

The pandemic has been particularly brutal to independent live music venues and presenters. 

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), formed early in the pandemic, has reported that 90% of its member venues will have to close indefinitely without support from the federal government. Headliners is a member of NIVA, as well as the locally organized coalition known as LOVS (Louisville Operating Venues Safely).

The House version of the latest federal coronavirus relief package had been updated a few weeks ago to include $10 billion in aid for the industry, an aspect from the proposed Save Our Stages Act, Rolling Stone magazine reported. But theHeroes Act is still in negotiations.

Stephanie Wolf is LPM's Arts & Culture Reporter. Email Stephanie at swolf@lpm.org.