Concerts provide ‘normalcy’ in uncertain times

Wendy SmithFarragut, The Farragut Insider

Shandy Dixon wasn’t thinking about live music when she began brainstorming with her friend Amy Boling about hosting an outdoor event for the community. Her initial idea, she says, was showing movies at the park. It was Amy who suggested that a concert would be fun.

That conversation led to the first Lawn Chair Concert at Founders Park at Campbell Station in 2015. The popular concert series returns on Saturday, Aug. 21, after missing the 2020 season due to the pandemic. While gathering with groups still carries some concern, Amy thinks it’s important for the community to have the opportunity to enjoy live music again.

“We all need that moment to pause, breathe, have fun and smile,” she says. “It will give us a sense of normalcy that we haven’t had in a long time.”

Shandy and Amy became friends through their sons, who play music together. Shandy, the daughter of singer-songwriter Roger Alan Wade, booked gigs for her father as a teen and has always been immersed in music. When the women landed on the idea of a concert in the park, they contacted Farragut Parks & Rec Director Sue Stuhl, who liked the idea. It was all “green lights” after that, Amy says.

The first show was a DIY affair. The women rented a stage and put it up themselves. They set up their own sound system. They borrowed rugs and carpets from their homes to create the Bohemian vibe that is still part of each show. The musicians, who performed for free, were Shandy’s dad, their sons and the band Kelsey’s Woods.

A band that was considering a future Lawn Chair performance attended the first show and agreed to give it a try – with better sound equipment. After that, Amy and Shandy hired S.O.S. Audio Events for all their shows.

Even with a shoe-string budget, the concerts required sponsorships. Amy and Shandy volunteer their time, but insurance and rentals add up. Thankfully, local businesses and the town of Farragut stepped up and continue to generously support the concerts.

Making the shows fun for kids as well as adults has always been an important part of the Lawn Chair Concert Series. Kid favorites like glow sticks, hula hoops, sidewalk chalk and games are part of each show. Shandy encourages sponsors to find creative ways to interact with the kids. She’s excited that The Muse is a sponsor this year.

The women each bring their own talents to their partnership, which now has a formal name – Mamajam Productions. Amy’s love of music, creativity and aesthetic sensibilities are the yin to Shandy’s “funky carnival” yang, according to Shandy. Amy lauds Shandy’s non-stop energy and 24/7 management of responsibilities.

They plan the concerts one year at a time and add new elements each year to see what works. They had decided against having vendors, other than food vendors, because it wasn’t convenient for concert goers to carry chairs and merchandise. But they’re planning to allow a musician to sell her line of jewelry at one of this year’s shows.

Their next endeavor, barring pandemic postponement, is a team effort with Visit Farragut – a bluegrass show at Founders Park in spring of 2022. You can see the wheels turning in Shandy’s mind as she talks about it.

“It’s just so much fun,” she says.

Kelsi Walker, Adeem the Artist and Vaden Landers will perform at the Aug. 21 show. Upcoming shows are scheduled for Sept. 18 and Oct. 2. The shows are free and festivities are 5-9 p.m. Info here.

Town of Farragut marketing and public relations coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut insider.

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