As the world reawakens to "normal" getting back up to speed over all we've been through the last couple of years is a learning curve for everyone. Especially when what you were working to build was only in it's infancy when the gears ground to a halt. This was the case with Court Yard Concerts in Grand Haven.
Year one came and went, and along came the stop to all things that included gatherings, so after 2019's inaugural season at the stunning Lynn Sherwood Waterfront Stadium in Grand Haven all that was learned was kinda quickly forgotten as the promoters of the shows, Gary and Michelle Hanks had to switch to survival mode just like every other live based industry in the USA. It was a frightening time not only for promoters like Gary and Michelle who's Courtyard Concerts are one element of their business. Actually, Courtyard Concert are the non profit they run along with their incredible listening room venue Seven Steps Up in Spring Lake. Mothballs come out. We all stayed home.
The opening night or 2022 featured Big Head Todd and the Monsters and 10,000 Maniacs. The chain needed some oil everywhere. It was pretty easy to see. Not only had the crew that helps pull the events together gotten a little smaller, the players that need to help from other areas missed a little too. Some electrical problems. Some staff not making the call. Some design needs to accommodate the permits to serve alcohol in the venue. How to sell beverage tickets and where. Water needs, food and more. The challenges all popped up and there were some who were understandably frustrated, none more than the people putting on the show.
Plans got underway instantly on how to improve. Electrical was first. Done and done. Next up, lines. Opening the second service station for drafts will allow for faster moving as well as more pouring. There will also be more locations to buy tickets for beverages and they will have them in more convenient areas away from such heavy traffic. You'll find separate areas for canned beverages like seltzers and wine as well, that will surly eliminate congestion. They are bringing in purified, chilled water service from Hydroz Water which will have stations around the venue for free water bottle fill ups, just please bring your own empty water bottle in advance. Food offerings are going to go up too! Righteous Cuisine will be on hand offering delicious hand-held's that are easy to eat and priced affordably, they too will have options for water and soft drinks. One thing to keep in mind too that's pretty specific to the Courtyard Concert Series, beverage tickets can be held until the next event. They don't expire nightly like other events. They can be used all they way up until the end of summer.
Michelle Hanks found a few minutes as they were ramping up for one of the free shows they do along with the big headliners. Still to come this year for the headline shows? Phil Vassar, Spin Doctors and Sister Hazel and to cap it all off toward the end of summer, John Waite and Ambrosia. Take a listen to what's to come and take a look too at this stunning place to see a show!
We're all due a little grace and trust me when I tell you this. Gary and Michelle are in this for the right reasons. I am there helping because it's got legs. I can also offer a thought or two if needed and, I have been in their very shoes. Opening night complaints were a lot louder to them as it's their baby but they were heard loud and clear. Things like buying tickets for drinks etc....it's all part of any festival that "pops up". The actual term is "transient festival" meaning that all parts of it have to travel in. From the acts to the port a potty's, it's a one day, 10 hour setup to create a first class experience. We can all extend a little grace on opening night and support these shows...because having them gone after having nothing for 2 years or more....nothing we want to live through again. We'll see you at Phil Vassar July 7th.