Coronavirus Silences Big Island Music Concerts – Some Venues Temporarily Close

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Editor’s Note: Bookmark this story, which will be updated as more information becomes available. Updated March 17, 2020, at 1:30 p.m.

On Thursday, March 12, Live Nation Entertainment and AEG Present, the leading promoters of major U.S. music events, announced they would halt events at least through the end of March because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The ripple effect rapidly reached the Big Island and both the 2020 Merrie Monarch Festival and the 25th Kona Brewers Festival pulled the plug due to concerns over public safety. “This was a difficult and unanimous decision rooted in our commitment to do right for the well-being of our whole community for long term wellness. The Kona Brewers Festival has been following this situation closely and has adjusted to each phase of information offered by the CDC and the State of Hawaii,” organizers said in a press release.

The following is a list of Big Island venues and their current status.

The Honokaa People’s Theatre marquee announces cancelations

Honokaa People’s Theatre
Closed. I spoke with HPT’s owner Dr. Tawn Keeney and he said the Theatre would be closed until further notice. “I decided to cancel shows like Celtica Nova (March 27) and the Allman Betts Band concert in April due to public safety concerns,” Keeney said. “I plan to hunker down and catch up on a few things during this time.” As of this writing, the venue’s marquee notes cancellations. 

Blue Dragon Tavern
Closed. Delphina Dorrance, the Blue Dragon Tavern’s Artistic Director, said in a statement: “With a heavy heart and responsible, precautionary community-loving health-minded head we have decided to close the Blue Dragon Tavern to music, dinner, and dancing starting this evening (March 13) through April 2, with an update to come the last week of March. Our team will work on returning any and all ticketed presales… We are all responsible in Hawaii to work together to prevent what has happened to Italy, Washington and so on. We should know any day the effects of the virus having landed in Hilo February 28 since it has a 2-week incubation period and you can be asymptomatic for 4-14 days.”

A collection of canceled Kahilu Theatre concert posters canvas a storefront window

Kahilu Theatre
Shows canceled/postponed. On Saturday, March 14, the Theatre sent out an email with the following statement: “We will postpone all Kahilu Theatre events through April 30, 2020. We are working to reschedule artists and performances for future dates. If you have purchased a ticket for an event that is postponed you may hold your ticket for the rescheduled event, donate your ticket if the new date doesn’t work for you, or request a refund. In addition, please keep in mind that cancellations of performances and gatherings have rapidly become widespread in the wake of COVID-19 and the financial impact on artists and arts organizations around the world has become a harsh reality. If you would like to support us during this difficult time, please consider making a tax-deductible gift to Kahilu Theatre.” For more info, the Kahilu Theatre can be reached at 808.885.6868, or by visiting Kahilu Theatre Box Office in person at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, Kamuela, HI 96743, Tuesday-Friday, from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Palace Theatre
All events postponed. Via their website: “Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, all public events at the Hilo Palace Theater are suspended until further notice.”

UH Hilo Performing Arts Center
Currently not selling tickets. An announcement on their website reads, “Due to the uncertainty of the ongoing and ever-changing coronavirus situation, tickets for all our remaining events have been currently taken offline. We will resume selling a limited number of tickets when the box office re-opens on Tuesday, March 24 at 10 am. As of today, March 13, the remaining shows we have for sale are proceeding as planned. Any changes to this will be posted as soon as they are known.”

Gertrude’s Jazz Bar
Closed as of March 17, 2020. Via Facebook post: “Based on today’s message from President Trump we will be closing Gertrude’s Jazz Bar for the recommended 15 days. We pray that doing our part can help minimize the spread of Covid19 on our beautiful island. Mahalo for your support. Take care and God Bless You.”

Aloha Theatre
Closed. In a public statement issued Sunday, March 15, 2020, the Aloha Theatre has made the decision to suspend productions until the end of April. “We are presently working with partner organizations to postpone or reschedule other upcoming events. If you are a ticket holder for any show previously scheduled for March or April, you will hear from us soon regarding rescheduling or refunds.” Melissa Geiger, Managing Director.

Privateer’s Cove
Closed. Via Facebook: “After much consideration, we have decided to temporarily close Privateer’s Cove Restaurant & Community Center. Our passion has and always will be bringing people together in a spirit of camaraderie and friendship. That purpose is currently at odds with the health and safety of our community. With CDC guidelines and protecting the community we love in mind; we will cease all operations and all events as of March 18th.”-  Nick Traxler & Crew

In this chaotic period, Big Island Music Magazine will continue to cover our music scene during the temporary closure of venues. Things will eventually return to normal here, and we sincerely hope you will continue to support local musicians either at open coffeehouses, restaurants or farmer’s markets.

Check our Facebook page for future updates.


Photos: Tim Mossholder and Steve Roby

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