Shows return to Memorial Auditorium, Walker Theatre this week

George Thorogood is at the Walker Theatre Tuesday; Theresa Caputo in the auditorium Friday

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / The Robert Kirk Walker Community Theatre at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium on Thursday, June 10, 2021.

When the first notes from George Thorogood's guitar ring out inside the Walker Theatre on Tuesday night around 7:30, they will be the first heard in the building since the Heartstrings concert in Memorial Auditorium on March 10, 2020, and the Marc Broussard show on March 12, 2020 in the Walker, which is upstairs.

Tivoli Foundation Executive Director Nick Wilkinson said the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases is making everyone in the live music industry think in "real time and that policies are now subject to change on down the pike, but we are planning to move forward and we ask folks to make good decisions and follow CDC guidelines."

The foundation sent out an email to patrons Saturday stating it recommends people attending live shows wear a mask when not eating or drinking, and that the situation is fluid and could change from show to show.

On Friday, the Moon River Festival in September in Chattanooga and Railbird Festival in Lexington, Kentucky, at the end of August, both owned by Live Nation, one of the largest entertainment companies in the world, announced all attendees will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result to attend.

Live Nation also produces or owns a number of tours and venues around the country, and on Friday afternoon it announced all of its shows will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for entry. Effective Oct. 4, all Live Nation employees around the country must be vaccinated to work in its offices or to even enter one of its events or venues.

The Tivoli Foundation books and promotes most of its own shows, but Wilkinson said that for any show booked into Memorial, the Tivoli or Walker, "The act or the tour requirements will trump our policies."

Thorogood has not placed any extra mandates on his show, but Wilkinson said, "We are asking that where people can, please wear a mask when moving throughout the building."

Theresa Caputo, an author and "psychic medium" who will perform in the auditorium on Friday, is requiring people wear masks, as she will on stage and when she goes into the audience.

Wilkinson said all Tivoli Foundation staff members have been vaccinated and must show proof.

"It gives us some control in the front and the back of the house," he said. "And, we will continue to have hand sanitizers throughout the building."

Both Thorogood and Caputo said in interviews this week they are ready and excited to be back out doing shows, and that safety is a priority.

"We did our first show last week, and we got a fantastic reception," Thorogood said.

He said he hopes the pandemic has increased people's awareness of being safe and healthy.

"I don't know about the rest of the world, but I've never taken health for granted." And, the "Bad to the Bone" singer said, "Now, if people have to do distancing, that's good, but people have been keeping their distance from me for a long time."

Caputo said she spent the first part of the year doing podcasts and later outdoor shows where fans sat in pods to ensure distancing. Since moving indoors, she has added safety measures for her crew such as face coverings and distancing. Both said their advance teams work with the various venues they will visit to discuss safety measures.

"We want to make sure that everyone is safe," Caputo said.

Wilkinson said the same thing, stressing that the situation is fluid and could change at almost any time.

The city-owned Memorial and Walker venues are run by the Tivoli Foundation and were closed by then-Mayor Andy Berke because of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and have been dormant since. Wilkinson said both venues have undergone plenty of deep cleaning and renovation work, however, and officials there are ready to show it off. The Tivoli Foundation also oversees the Tivoli Theatre. It has shown movies to a limited capacity audience for the past several months, but has not had a live concert or show.

Those restrictions were lifted and Mayor Tim Kelly has said the Tivoli Foundation as an independent board can make its own decisions on policies and guidelines regarding safety measures related to COVID-19.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.