Editor's note: Jeff Thompson, director for the Center for Education and Performing Arts, wrote a first-person piece about his organization and how he'd love to see continued support from the community for Live at Logan Martin. You can get tickets at liveatloganmartin.com.
In the summer of 2020, I met a representative from The Black Jacket Symphony at Lakeside Park in Pell City. Earlier that year, thanks to Hargray, we were able to bring Black Jacket to the Center for Education and Performing Arts for the first time. Fleetwood Mac on Valentine’s Day. We were ecstatic.
And then, the next month, we closed the facility.
The COVID-19 pandemic was brutal. CEPA had tremendous momentum from two sold-out nights and suddenly we were facing a very uncertain future. The pandemic sustained, and we jointly agreed to cancel our May 2020 Led Zeppelin show. We asked everyone for patience.
So some months later, there we were. Standing by the splash pad, evaluating the slope of the grass and estimating the parking situation. It looked like a good fit for an outdoor show. We could section off squares for attendees to stay socially distant.
He wasn’t sold. I took him to a different site.
We drove around the corner to the Pell City Sports Complex, down to where the rodeo lights up the peninsula for thousands each year. He took one look at it. “I like this,” he said. “This can work.” I was nervous but he was right. I could see it, too.
We started designing a show that you could see from a boat. We wanted to put on a safe event, and there was nowhere safer we could think of for our audience to be. Plus we wanted a concert for the community, and we wanted everyone to be there – even if they didn’t feel comfortable just yet being on the front row. From the start, this was always an event we wanted to give to this community.
I was immediately candid that while it was a great idea, I needed to call in experts — the organizers of LakeFest. Their annual event is top-tier, and if anyone in this town was going to know how to pull this off, it would be them. Thankfully, they were in.
Next we needed to find someone else who believed in it and would help us make it real. One video call to America’s First Federal Credit Union later and they were in love with the idea, too.
And so Live at Logan Martin was born. A concert on the lake in a place that had no true venue. A strange, COVID-induced music festival for boats and people on land that brought together a community that had been quarantined for months.
If you went last year, you know it was incredible. It was fun, and it was what a lot of us really needed at the time. We’re bringing it back again in 2021 because of that. Because we could use some fun in our lives right now.
Tom Petty is fun.
Light shows are fun.
And being together on the shore of a lake listening to Tom Petty and watching a light show is dang good fun.
We hope that you join us. We’d like to see you there. As a community.