LOGAN – The recent premiere of the Random Acts Community Performance Series was certainly not business as usual for the Ellen Eccles Theatre in downtown Logan.
That two-night event featured entertainment not normally seen in that elegant setting, performed for an audience that could charitably be described as sparse.
On the other hand, the theater’s stage wasn’t dark and its auditorium wasn’t empty, as they have been since mid-March.
In the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, that’s progress.
The Random Acts opener was headlined by two county-western bands originally formed here in Cache Valley and that description was entirely appropriate since one group of musicians leaned toward country music while the other had a decidedly western flair.
“Xavier Hay and the Deadman’s Band” left no question about their musical direction by starting the evening off with a raucous version of the western favorite “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”
Their frontman Hay has a bass voice about as deep as the Grand Canyon, making him perfectly suited to sing a throbbing “House of the Rising Sun” and the Johnny Cash hit “Hurt.”
In addition to performing some original tunes, the western band also gave a tip of the hat to fans of the Golden Age of Cowboy Music by performing the classic “Big Iron,” one of the best known of Marty Robbins’ famed gunslinger ballads.
When their turn in the spotlight came, “JD and the Brass Saddle Band” performed a set of mostly original tunes with an upbeat country flavor.
Lead singer JD Devey deftly blended harmonies with Kaylee Brown on rhythm guitar, while “Big Nic” Renshaw rocked out with wild enthusiasm on bass.
The CacheARTS organizers of the Random Acts series deliberately limited the concert to a little more than an hour, which left the small but appreciative audience obviously wanting to hear more from the fine performers.
In addition to giving local entertainers a chance to shine in these dark days, these low-key events at the Eccles Theatre are intended to gradually bring Cache Valley’s performing arts community back to life during the ongoing health crisis.
The concert events on July 17 and 18 certainly demonstrated that Cache Valley Center for the Arts is pulling out all the stops to prove to local audiences that it can present live entertainment safely under an Orange/Moderate health risk level.
Seating for upcoming Random Acts events will be limited to approximately 100 ticket groups within the 1100-seat Ellen Eccles Theatre to ensure social distancing.
A separate entrance that by-passes the theater’s lobby will be available for attendees who feel the need to take special precautions to avoid public groups.
Events in the Random Acts Community Performance Series will be presented with no intermission, to limit mingling in the theater’s lobby and aisles.
The wearing of facemasks is also being strongly recommended at these performances.
The next Random Acts event will feature local raconteur Craig Mecham providing an evening of “Almost Normal” songs and stories at 7 p.m., on Friday, July 31.