July 25 drive-in concert

Saskatchewan country musician Justin LaBrash during one of his drive-in concerts. He will perform at the 2020 Taking it to the Streets free drive-in concert in Swift Current, July 25.

Members of the Swift Current business community are again coming together to host a free music concert for area residents.

The 2020 Taking it to the Streets free drive-in concert with a performance by Saskatchewan country musician Justin LaBrash and his band True North takes place at Kinetic Park, July 25.

The inaugural Taking it to the Streets concert took place last year in the Swift Current downtown area at Memorial Park. The arrangement of the 2020 concert is again spearheaded by Leanne Tuntland-Wiebe from Bumper to Bumper Great West Auto Electric.

The format of this year’s concert will be different due to the COVID-19 public health measures, but the intention of the event is still the same as before.

“It was a feeling that we needed to give back to the community,” she said. “Great West Auto Electric has been here almost 70 years and people in the southwest have supported us tremendously. We are so blessed to be in this new building and we couldn't have without the support from all the southwest. It was time to give back and that's why we chose to do it as a free concert and then I started approaching business friends and people who have also been in the community a long time and their feeling was this is great.”

An important focus of last year’s concert was to thank area residents for their efforts to create a great community through volunteering. The Swift Current area hosted a number of major events in 2019, including the Western Canada Summer Games, and volunteers played a key role in the success of those events.

“I really wanted a sense of community coming together and all being one, and I think we proved that last year,” she said about the success of the inaugural concert.

That spirit of giving associated with last year’s concert will continue with the 2020 drive-in concert, because the evening of music will help to lift people’s spirits and to give them a break from the pandemic.

“Mental health has come to the forefront during all of this and having something fun to do, normal to do, help people to forget for a little while,” she said. “I think it's an important concert going forward too. There's always going to be something that we're thankful for, something we can help the community with and we're hoping Taking it to the Streets goes on for many years.”

The 2020 concert was originally scheduled to take place in August, but the COVID-19 pandemic derailed those plans entirely. However, Tuntland-Wiebe did not give up on the idea to still have a concert this year.

“I was really hoping there was something that we could pull off,” she said. “Then hearing that Brett Kissel was doing drive-in concerts in Edmonton, my brain started to think this is opening up, how can we do a drive-in, how can we do it safely.”

She immediately contacted LaBrash when she heard he is doing drive-in concerts in Saskatchewan, and he was on board with the idea of a similar concert in Swift Current.

He was scheduled to be one of the three performers at the Taking it to the Streets concert that was supposed to take place in August.

“He's the type of artist that reads his audience and he can play anything,” Tuntland-Wiebe said. “So he reacts with the audience. He's going to be really good for getting the crowd going. … He'll make people forget for a time that we're social distancing, even though we're in cars. Everybody likes a drive-in, everybody likes concerts, and everybody likes being outside in southwestern Saskatchewan in the summer time. So we're providing all three of those and I think it's going to be a really, really good evening.”

LaBrash entertains audiences with a dynamic, high-energy show while performing his own songs as well as classic country songs and rock hits. He has performed across Canada at various festivals and events.

He just released his third album and his latest single See You in the Stars reached the top spot on the Canadian True North Country Indie chart.

He is the 2018 Saskatchewan Country Music Association (SCMA) emerging artist of the year, a nominee for Saskatchewan country artist of the year, and a two-time finalist and runner-up in the 620 CKRM Proudly Saskatchewan showcase. He was named by CKRM as most promising entertainer in 2016.

His current drive-in concert tour in Saskatchewan is the first tour with this format in the province. He believes in building communities and paying it forward. He therefore highlights a local charity organization to support in each community on his tour.

Tuntland-Wiebe said the Salvation Army foodbank in Swift Current will be the featured charity at the Taking it to the Streets drive-in concert. People are asked to bring non-perishable food items or cash donations for the food bank with them to the concert.

Bumper to Bumper Great West Auto Electric is hosting the concert in partnership with several other local businesses. The other partners are Pharmasave, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Robertson Motorsports & Marine, CKSW 570, Sign Here Signs & Printing, and Brandon Wiebe Graphic Design.

Various measures will be in place for the drive-in concert to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 public health measures.

Entrance to the concert will only be through the gate on the west side of Kinetic Park. Cars and SUV’s can start to arrive at 7 p.m. and trucks can start to enter at 7:30 p.m. The concert will start at 8 p.m.

People will have to provide their names, phone numbers and vehicle registration numbers upon arrival. This is necessary for the purpose of contact tracing in case of any infections. CKSW 570 will have a printable form available on their website blog page for people to print out and complete before the concert.

Vehicles will be directed to parking spots to ensure that proper distancing is maintained. People must stay at the vehicle they come in and they cannot visit friends. They can bring their own lawn chairs and they are allowed to sit at the front of their vehicle or on the driver’s side only, but at all times they must be able to touch the vehicle.

No food will be provided at the event, but people can bring a picnic lunch or snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. No alcohol will be permitted and concert-goers are requested to keep garbage in their vehicles. There will be portable toilets available with hand gel and disinfectant wipes.

Tuntland-Wiebe noted there is enough room at Kinetic Park to accommodate a large number of vehicles and at the same time concert-goers can maintain physical distancing.

“We're hoping that visually over 400 vehicles will be able to see the stage,” she said. “There's room for many more vehicles beyond that, and if you're sitting out on top of your truck, like a lot of the concerts are doing, they can see the concert.”

The rules for the concert will be updated if there are any changes to the COVID-19 public health guidelines before July 25. Updates will be posted on the Bumper to Bumper Great West Auto Electric Facebook page (@bumpertobumpersc).

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