The sound of music will once again invade the Neepawa Hills with the return of the Kaleidoscope Concert series.
It’s a fantastic feeling to know that live concerts are returning to the stage after more than a year of silence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Ron Nordstrom, Kaleidoscope volunteer. The members of Kaleidoscope have carefully crafted a season of audience entertainment focused on supporting Manitoba musicians and providing them with a platform at the Roxy Theater.
“There is a wide range of options for Manitoba musicians. If you are looking for hip-hop or country artists or whatever, there are so many musicians in Manitoba to choose from, ”said Nordstrom. “We are trying to attract local talent.
He hopes the first concert, Leaf Rapids, will be an opportunity to test the water and show that it is safe to return to live music in the community.
A small benefit concert with about 100 people was held for the Roxy Theater before the performance of Leaf Rapids, he said, and volunteers were able to learn from the experience. Nordstrom added that the Roxy Theater is a nonprofit in the community and, like many others, had very little income during the global health crisis.
Leaf Rapids marked the first Kaleidoscope concert since the pandemic began, hitting the theater stage on November 8.
“These are the first steps in bringing people back,” Nordstrom said.
Planning for the 2021-22 Kaleidoscope concert series has been difficult due to the uncertainty created by COVID-19, he said.
Proof of full vaccination will be required as well as photo identification. Masks must also be worn for the duration of the concert and several hand sanitizing stations will be available.
Ticket sales for the new season have been low, Nordstrom said, but he hopes to see the excitement grow for each concert.
“I think [audiences] must be built. Ticket sales have not reached their normal level at this point, ”Nordstrom said. He added that the 2021-22 season is also in a unique situation as Kaleidoscope will not be offering season tickets due to the uncertainty created by COVID-19 public health regulations.
The organizers have chosen to sell tickets for individual concerts in case they encounter restrictions requiring the events to be canceled.
Nordstrom said he has felt some hesitation from a potential audience, whether those who wish to gather in a large crowd or those who resist wearing a mask during a extended period.
“Personally, I have already attended several concerts and I had to wear my mask for the duration of the concert. It’s slightly uncomfortable, but it’s no worse than people working in retail who have to wear their masks for eight hours, ”Nordstrom said. “It’s a slight inconvenience, it doesn’t matter.”
For now, Kaleidoscope volunteers are thankful that they can once again host live music and have the band in town for the first post-pandemic concert, after the sadness of seeing the 2020 season canceled.
In 2020, the entire concert series from October to March was canceled due to the pandemic.
It was a disappointing time, Nordstrom said, as he was eager to share the music of Manitoba-based Leaf Rapids and others with residents of the Westman area. A number of artists participating in 2021-2022 were expected to appear last year, while more were newly added to the roster.
Logistical planning for the new season has been complicated, he said, and part of the COVID reality adaptation had limited the series to artists based in Manitoba.
Nordstrom added that Kaleidoscope doesn’t expect to break even this year, but sees it as an opportunity to rebuild its audience.
“They have to have the confidence to come out, and I think for a little while musicians and venues will have to work to restore the confidence of spectators to get them to come out and see events live,” Nordstrom said. “When you come out of these things, you feel good.
While he enjoys being able to watch events online, it doesn’t offer the same energy and excitement as getting together with others to enjoy a special performance. Nordstrom said it can benefit mental health by being part of a connected community at a concert, especially for those who have experienced extreme isolation during COVID-19.
“You energize each other,” Nordstrom said.
For more information, visit kaleidoscopeconcerts.ca/ or follow us on Facebook for up-to-date information.
Manitoba Country Music Awards fan favorite Kendra Kay will be the next performance of the series at the Roxy Theater on December 7.