Renton Road Shows bring socially distanced concerts to the community

Concert series organizers said the events are intended to support out-of-work mucisians.

The Renton Arts Commission and the Renton Civic Theater have partnered to create an opportunity and an outlet for musicians left out-of-work in the wake of the pandemic.

The Renton Road Shows are intended to bring socially distanced concerts to the community while also directly supporting struggling musicians, according to Renton Municipal Arts Commissioner Marsha Rollinger.

“There was no way for these artists to perform,” Rollinger said as music venues across the country have shuddered their doors.

Rollinger said the RMAC partnered with the Renton Civic Theater to put on these concerts in places that were accessible to the community.

“We knew people were weary of gathering in public places, so we wanted to bring the concert to them,” Rollinger said.

RMAC commissioner and Renton Civic Theater Director, Bill Huls, said he got the idea to organize concerts at St. Matthews Lutheran Church when Sustainable Renton hosts their free grocery market to give groceries to families in need.

Huls said they knew the free grocery market would attract people to hear the music but would also be socially distanced as people wait in their cars for their turn to get groceries.

He also said the concerts had recently begun Facebook live-streaming so more people could enjoy the music while remaining socially-distant.

Huls said in the future he hopes to incorporate different kinds of shows and live performances from actors and poets. He also said he hopes to bring the concerts to different parts of the community to enjoy.

He suggested the idea of bringing the concert to an assisted living facility so folks could hear the music from their balconies, or even pulling the concert up to a random neighborhood cul de sac.

Although designed to bring joy and entertainment to a community suffering through the pandemic, Huls said he thinks the Renton Road Shows tradition will outlast the pandemic.

The next concerts in the Renton Road Shows series will feature members of the Naked Giants band. On March 22, Henry LaVallee will perform at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church and on March 29 Gianni Aiello will perform at the same location.