The live music landscape is gradually expanding, making a comeback mainly via socially distanced pod shows. With plenty of wide-open spaces in the Blue Ridge, here’s a look at some of the venues hosting spring concerts around the region.
Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina
The Festy is a decade-old festival that is a popular mainstay in the Blue Ridge region, but last fall event organizers pivoted to hosting a series of socially distanced pod concerts at a winery in central Virginia. That series will multiply exponentially this year, holding approximately 150 shows in three different states. From the spring through the fall, outdoor concerts will be held at Chisholm Vineyards near Charlottesville, Va., Lake Eden in Black Mountain, N.C., and Woodlands Nature Reserve in Charleston, S.C. Tickets for the family-friendly shows will be sold in two-, four-, and six-person pods that are distanced from each other by at least six feet.
Upcoming shows include David Wax Museum and Molly Tuttle in Charlottesville on May 8 and May 29, respectively. Dynamic troubadour Martin Sexton will play Charleston on June 4, Black Mountain June 5, and Charlottesville on June 6. thefesty.com
Devils Backbone Brewery’s Spring Concert Series
Located deep in the central Virginia Blue Ridge, near the base of Wintergreen Resort, Devils Backbone’s Basecamp Brewery in Nelson County is set on a sprawling property with plenty of space to hold socially distanced outdoor shows. In May the brewery will start a spring concert series that will feature walk-in shows in pods that can hold between two and 10 people.
Masks will be required when attendees are outside pods and all food and brews must be pre-ordered. Confirmed shows include Mt. Joy on May 14, Moon Taxi on May 22, and Big Something with Too Many Zoos on May 29. dbbrewingcompany.com
Concerts at Bonnaroo Farm
The massive Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is set to make a comeback over Labor Day weekend, but ahead of that the 700-acre farm where the fest is held will be used to host a series of socially distanced pod concerts. Catch bluegrass phenom Billy Strings on May 28, Jon Pardi on May 29, and a three-night stand with the Avett Brothers on July 2, 3, and 4. Tickets are being sold in four-person, distanced pods, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets and chairs to get comfortable in their designated space.
Cola Concerts at Columbia Speedway Entertainment Center
At Columbia Speedway Entertainment Center, concert attendees are grouped in distanced “coves” that can hold up to eight people, and at least four tickets must be purchased in a single transaction. Safety measures include contactless entry and masks required when attendees are outside of their coves. Acts performing include Shovels and Rope on May 1, Mt. Joy on May 15, and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit on September 2. colaconcerts.com
Concerts at the Caverns
The Caverns usually hosts underground shows—literally. The subterranean venue has become a well-known destination where acts perform for 1,200 people in a large southeastern Tennessee cave. Last fall, after sounds had been dormant for most of 2020, venue organizers found a way to adapt and started hosting shows on a large hillside above Big Mouth Cave. A four-night stand by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit was particularly successful, and this spring what’s now known as the Caverns Above Ground is holding one of the largest concert series in the South. Attendees receive temperature checks and watch bands play from two-, four-, or six-person pods.
Upcoming shows include Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors on May 2, a two-night stand with Goose on May 8 and 9, Margo Price on May 28, and two shows by Mandolin Orange on June 5 and 6. thecaverns.com
Grassroots Live at Shakori Hills Concert Series
In the Triangle area of North Carolina, the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance is a beloved institution, with events usually taking place in the spring and fall. While organizers are planning for the autumn event to take place (October 7-10), this spring they are pivoting to a pod-based concert series. Acts to catch at the Shakori Hills Community Arts Center in Pittsboro include Del McCoury Band on May 8, Yonder Mountain String Band on May 15, Galactic on May 22, and two nights with Donna the Buffalo on June 11 and 12. shakorihillsgrassroots.org
B Chord Brewing Concert Series
As the name suggests, the folks at B Chord Brewing really dig music, so they often bring bands to perform at their park-like grounds in the foothills of the Blue Ridge in Loudon County, Va. With plenty of space to spread out on the brewery’s lawn, you can catch Yonder Mountain String Band performing two nights on July 3 and 4. On Memorial Day Weekend the brewery will also host DelFest Lite, a smaller version of the annual bluegrass bash DelFest (moved to September) that will feature the Del McCoury Band, Seldom Scene, Sierra Hull, and a handful of other fast-picking acts. bchordbrewing.com
Cover photo: The Festy (right) will host 150 regional concerts. Photo courtesy of the Festy