The show goes on (virtually) in Uptown concert series

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Lee Gantt performs on a Columbus stage, while his fans in Oxford enjoyed the concert on Facebook. Photo courtesy of Enjoy Oxford

By Casey Brosokas

Enjoy Oxford held its first virtual concert of the summer Thursday evening as 1,600 fans crowded in front of their screens to enjoy country singer Lee Gantt perform on Facebook live from a stage in Columbus.

The Uptown Oxford Concert series has been in Uptown Park in Oxford for 34 years, and Enjoy Oxford was not going to let the pandemic get in the way of it happening this year. This year, just like all others, the concerts are funded by the local businesses in the Oxford area, although some may be suffering financially due to the pandemic that forced them to shut down for two and a half months.

Thursday’s concert was mainly funded by Butler Rural Electric Cooperative, as they usually fund the first concert of every summer, said Kim Daggy, director of Enjoy Oxford. But there will be many other local businesses helping out as the series progresses, she said.

“I think it’s a testament of our business community, our residents and all those who love Oxford. It’s completely funded by local businesses,” Daggy said. Although it may not be the most optimal situation for a concert, Daggy said she made the best of a bad situation, and enjoyed the concert from her backyard, although, “It’s tough not being in the park,” she said.

Daggy has organized the concert series for a number of years now, and it is something she said has a positive impact on the community. “It’s a family friendly, true community gathering,” she said. The series is meant to bring residents of Oxford together to enjoy new experiences and artists that they normally would not be able to experience in Oxford, Daggy said.

While this was Gantt’s first full band virtual concert, he said he has been doing acoustic virtual performances during the pandemic. The production took place in a private venue in Columbus, where Gantt had a full stage set-up and band to perform in front of.

“We’ve played in front of crowds of three thousand people, and there have been times we have performed in front of fifty people… I always try to put on the best show I can no matter the size of the crowd,” Gantt said, noting that the set up for the virtual production was almost the same as a live performance.

The biggest adjustment to performing virtually is the crowd presence, Gantt said. At one point during the concert he mentioned, “It’s so weird how quiet it is in here,” to the viewers on Facebook live and the small crowd of family and friends that were present at the venue.

Gantt played a number of covers from artists like Eric Church, Tim McGraw and Chris Young, as well as a large amount of original songs. He previewed a good amount of songs that will be coming out on his new album, as well as songs, “Ruined This Town” and “Sippin’ on Whiskey” from his discography.