In normal times, dozens to hundreds to thousands of people gathered in the bars, restaurants, clubs, theaters and arenas where musicians performed.
But since the implementation of coronavirus pandemic restrictions on public gatherings, in-person musical performances have been in limbo.
Enter Beauvoir Park. A mixed commercial use property alongside the Perkins Road overpass, the two-acre site includes an outdoor stage and lawn that can accommodate a few hundred people.
“It was a joy to play after not having the opportunity in a while,” the Levee Road Revue’s Eric Schmitt said after the band's June 4 concert at the park. “It’s a nice stage and a beautiful little area. It’s an ideal location because of what’s going on now. The crowd can spread out and be outdoors responsibly. We had a bunch of cancellations in the spring. Since then, when something like this comes along, I take it if it feels like it’s safe.”
While the pandemic continues, local music promoter J. Hover is booking weekly shows and some Saturday events at the park. Thursday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $20 and the drink policy is bring-your-own.
Pre-pandemic, Beauvoir Park and its owner, Leslie R. Bratton Jr., hosted St. Patrick’s Day parties timed to the annual Wearin' of the Green parade held in the Perkins Road area. Hover has been booking stand-alone shows there since spring 2019.
Like so many music venues, Beauvoir Park stopped the music in March. Realizing the logistical advantage an outdoor concert space has over indoor venues, Hover and Bratton relaunched their music series with the Levee Road Revue, a local singer-songwriter collective.
“People can practice social distancing here,” Bratton said. “We’re big enough to have 250 people but we stop it at 75 or 100. There’s plenty of room to move around, because we have the pavilion, the patio and the lawn area.”
“We encourage people to bring blankets and socially distance that way,” Hover said. “We’ve got a temperature gun to make sure that no one comes in running hot. The last thing we want to do is be irresponsible.”
So far, the revived concert series’ biggest show has been Captain Green, the funk and soul band featuring recent “American Idol” contestant Jovin Webb.
“With COVID happening, we haven’t had many opportunities to do our thing,” Webb said. “So, it was cool to be at Beauvoir Park and see people react to what we were doing.”
Captain Green is tentatively scheduled to return to Beauvoir Park on Aug. 22, sharing a bill with the nationally known New Orleans band The Iceman Special.
The Beauvoir Park concert series was building its reputation prior to the coronavirus-prompted shutdown. The venue’s 2020 St. Patrick’s Day event was an early casualty.
“We had great national acts,” Hover said, “coming out of New Orleans on their way to Austin for the South by Southwest Conference. We had to pull the plug. That was right when everything was hitting the fan.”
For the near future, Hover is focused on booking local talent.
“Musicians are really hurting,” he said. “For the timing being, we want to support them in any way that we can. We’re booked through August and we get calls daily from musicians. We’re trying to fit them in.”
With the head start Beauvoir Park has on other local music venues, Hover hopes the previously low-profile venue will prosper when pandemic restrictions ease.
“We market ourselves as Baton Rouge’s best-kept secret,” he said. “We love that term, but we’re not going to be a successful venue if that remains the case. We’re trying to get the word out there. Beyond the music, we had our first yoga night last week. We’re focusing not only on music, but health and wellness and the arts.”
Beauvoir Park schedule
Madi Swan Band
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6
Beauvoir Park, 2834 Greenwood Drive
July 30: Minos the Saint
Aug. 13: Julian Primeaux
Aug. 20: Chris Coreil Trio
Aug. 22: Captain Green/The Iceman Special (tentative)
Aug. 27: Ross Hoppe Trio
Aug. 29: James McCann and the Northbound Drifters, Clay Parker and Jodi James, Stephen Clemmons, Quinn Pilgrim