“The Asbury Jukes and I are so excited that we can play this first of its kind live concert and help get New Jersey started on a quick and healthy return to normal,” said “Southside” Johnny Lyon in a statement. “Why sit at home when ‘We’re Havin’ A Party,’ drive-in style? We’ll safely see everyone July 11th.”
The show — New Jersey’s first non-virtual online presented concert during the pandemic– will be a welcome sign of hope for music fans that have seen their summer plans dashed as artists continue to cancel or postpone their tours. Earlier this spring, the Stone Pony Summer Stage scrapped many of its scheduled shows, including Lyon’s annual Fourth of July Weekend appearance, which was set for July 3, 2020 and is now pushed to July 3, 2021.
The shows are a highlight of the summer season as Lyon is often joined by special guests, including Bruce Springsteen, who graced the stage for a hot summer evening in 2019 (pictured). Springsteen recently played with Boston band the Dropkick Murphys in a virtual remote performance from his Jersey home while the band played live to an empty stadium in Fenway Park for fans watching on YouTube. Could the Boss appear “down the shore” on July 11? Monmouth Park Racetrack is only eight miles from Springsteen’s home turf of Asbury Park. Fans can only hope.
Drive-in concerts are becoming increasingly popular, with country star Keith Urban playing for about 200 people in 125 vehicles at the Stardust Drive-In Theatre in Watertown, Tenn, and Utopia bassist Kasim Sulton and former Styx member Glen Burtnik’s new band, the Weeklings, playing sold-out shows in Derry, New Hampshire at the Tupelo Music Hall. Earlier in May, DJ D-Nice performed a successful drive-in show for first responders in a parking lot in Florida (which was livestreamed to the thousands of fans he’s picked up with his celebrated Club Quarantine DJ sets). This coming week, a series of concerts with Pat Green and others will be held at Texas’ Globe Life Field, with capacity limited to 400 cars.
The plan for New Jersey is on an even larger scale than the Texas concerts, with the parking area spaced to accommodate up to 1,000 cars in the track parking lot, with a maximum occupancy of four passengers per vehicle. Each car will be spaced nine feet apart to comply with social distancing regulations, according to organizers. Cars will also be parked in a “staggered fashion” to achieve spacing and best visibility. Attendees will be able to hear the concerts via FM radio frequency to be announced at a later date.
Patrons attending the show may only leave their vehicles only to use the restrooms — which will be cleaned and sanitized after each use — and will be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Plans for concessions, with the exclusion of alcohol, are in the works and tailgating or “out-of-vehicle” gatherings will be permitted. Carloads of more than four in a vehicle are will be “turned away” and pets are not permitted. Parking spots cannot be reserved and vehicles are “subject to search upon entry.”
“I commend the Count Basie Center for the Arts for finding a way to bring live entertainment to Monmouth County in a fun and safe way,” said Monmouth County Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone in a statement. “This drive-in show is a great way to get out of the house and experience a live show, while still practicing social distancing.”
“Touchless, mobile” general admission ticket sales for the rain or shine event, priced between $150 and $250, go on sale on June 5 at 10 a.m. EST through Ticketmaster. “Drive-In” live is presented by The Basie Presents and World Subaru and will benefit the Count Basie Center for the Arts with a portion of proceeds going to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. More information can be found at thebasie.org/drivein and Monmouthpark.com.