Music in the Monadnock Region: The Show Must Go On!

Sitting under the stars, watching your favorite band, and hearing the soft laughter of other concert-goers—it almost feels like a typical August. Despite all that’s going on in the world, music-lovers in the Monadnock Region have found remarkable ways to keep the tunes going this summer. And one of them is Drive-In Live, a drive-in music experience that’s not be missed.

Drive-In Live

Organizers Seth McNalley and Mike Chadinha pulled together plans for this innovative music solution in just six weeks, launching shows at the start of summer. Multiple sound systems, giant screens, full lighting, and an impressive stage make it truly something worth seeing.

Outside shot at the Cheshire Fairgrounds

Drive-In Live is located at the Cheshire Fairgrounds in Swanzey, deftly bringing together key safety measures like being outdoors and remaining well-spaced. The successful arrangement has thoughtfully drawn folks from near and far to hear big-name groups, from Guster to Grace Potter.

Outside musical performance at the Cheshire Fairgrounds

Bring some tasty takeout, perch on the trunk or pull up a lawn chair, and even tune into the live show on your own car radio. Performances are scheduled to continue into October, and it’s definitely a pandemic experience you’ll remember for a lifetime.

Outside musical performance at the Cheshire Fairgrounds

Breweries Bring it On

The beer garden has always been a great place to kick back and enjoy live music, but this summer, brewery backyards have become a staple. Many local craft beer makers are making the most of the season by inviting their favorite local musicians to set up (at a great distance) and entertain visitors.

For instance, in Swanzey, newcomer West LA Beer Company (LA is for Lower Ashuelot) has booked quite the lineup of gigs. Their clear guidelines, well-spaced picnic tables, and superb drinks have resulted in a strong local following.

West LA Beer setup

West LA gets additional points for creativity, using their parking lot to host a sweet little coffee truck in the morning and a food truck on weekends. At the start of August, they even offered a Saturday with Surf & Turf. Yum!

A Glass of beer at West LA Beer

The Outlaw Brewing Company in Winchester has also pumped up the summertime volume with live music, comedy, and magic. They even offer a Yoga & Beer night! With great beer on tap, BBQ delights from the famous Serial Grillers, and plenty of open space to enjoy, this is a fantastic destination.

Another place to pull up a patio chair is Frogg Brewing in Marlborough. Sip a cold beer while savoring the sounds of local guitarists and grab a plate of their mean barbecue, as well as a couple scoops of scrumptious ice cream from nearby Walpole Creamery.

These aren’t the only brew houses that put on their thinking caps and saved summer 2020 from a music-less fate. The Monadnock region has quickly grown a reputation for its diverse and dedicated network of craft beer producers. What a great time to find your favorite!

And while you’re looking, check out the Wyman Tavern Brew Tour, extending for the entire month of August, featuring fourteen of the region’s best craft breweries, distilleries, restaurants, and beer stores. While they won’t all be featuring music, ticket purchases support the Historical Society of Cheshire County.

Ad for Wyman Tavern Brew Tour

Your Own Backyard

If you want to venture out to Dublin, the DubHub (Dublin Community Center) features musicians and sometimes a BBQ in an “Outdoor Open Stage (socially distanced w/face masks).” Check out their calendar and schedule.

There are still a few concerts left in the Music & Lunch series, sponsored by Monadnock Music, mostly at Depot Park, Peterborough. (Shown below, Jason Thomas Koerber, scheduled for August 27, 12-1 pm.)

Jason Thomas Koerber playing the clarinet

Peterborough Folk Music is offering some socially-distanced outdoor concerts into September. Check it out.

In Walpole, the final concert in the Concerts in the Common series will be held on August 23rd, with a performance by Beatles tribute band Studio 2.

If you’re not feeling comfortable venturing out, for whatever reason, you can still tune in and feel the community vibes that make music so special. Nova Arts Block, a newly renovated, collaborative arts space that’s preparing to launch in Keene, posts a Listening Party each week. Whether you download, stream, or even pull out your vinyl, pop on the same album that everyone’s listening to and soak in an hour or so of connection.

Billy Joel captured it well when he said: “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by.” What better way to heal our human selves and get grounded during this difficult time than to tune in as the beat goes on.

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