October 12, 2020 | By Laura Kepner
SHAMc’s Live Music Flatbed
is Rolling to a Location Near You
Safety Harbor & Dunedin
Before Covid-19 arrived in Florida, artists Todd Ramquist and Kiaralinda saw approximately 100 music performances a year and hosted 50 more. Besides creating art, Ramquist has become a live music organizer of sorts, bringing singer-songwriters and Grammy-winning artists to Safety Harbor Art & Music Center, the art center he, Kiaralinda and Heather Richardson founded four years ago.
Ramquist and Kiaralinda have also organized both out of state and local shows, including at Ruth Eckerd Hall and six years of SongFest, a singer-songwriter festival that created awareness for SHAMc.
The couple left their home in Safety Harbor in June. Their annual summer travel usually involves participating in art shows and festivals to sell their art. But a wide array of 2020 shows were canceled due to the pandemic.
As with many of their contemporaries, it may be a slower-than-normal year for art sales. But they’re artists — they’re creative — they’ve found ways to bring live music to safely-distanced crowds. So far on their trip back to Florida, they’ve already organized shows in Lake Geneva, Boulder and Atlanta.
“It’s all part of #SHAMcArtReach,” Kiaralinda explains. “We all need art and music more than ever right now.”
“Because of Coronavirus we were forced to do something else to keep shows outdoors and socially distanced. That’s how we came up with the mobile stage,” Ramquist says. “We’ve only gotten to see music twice this year, both in Chicago. One of the venues was Fitzgerald’s, who gave us the idea for a mobile stage.”
While being used to hosting singer-songwriters at the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center almost every weekend September through May, the SHAMc team had to think outside the box — but they do that anyway. They created a moving stage and drove it to pre-arranged places, such as neighborhoods and local eateries, ending the evening at the art center. Each stop had a limit on how many could attend but that never caused problems because of how the mobile music tour was organized.
“We did four mobile concerts before we left Safety Harbor in June. Now, we are lining up musicians again,” Ramquist says. “A lot of musicians are planning to come down to participate.”
This coming weekend, October 17 and 18, the SHAMc Mobile Music tour will deliver The Currys to locations throughout Safety Harbor and Dunedin. The Currys incorporate elements of country, bluegrass, blues and rock, showcasing tight vocal harmonies, thoughtful songwriting and a strong emphasis on live performance.
Ramquist says that all the artists who performed this past spring made three to four times more than what they’re used to with a live audience. “There are very few outlets for these artists to make money,” he says. “Some did Facebook Live shows but that faded over time. We are partnering with a livestream platform called StageIt, which will generate income for the musicians.”
Ramquist says they will use that platform to broadcast the last show from the art center for those who can’t make it to the live performances. If you attend one of the shows, tips are appreciated and will go directly to the musicians.
Kiaralinda stresses that all locations will have regulations for safety, including social distancing and mask requirements. “Music is our heartbeat and everyone is missing it,” she says. ”We can enjoy what we used to enjoy and support the musicians.”
Most locations require a reservation in order to accommodate safety guidelines. For a list of venues, please visit safetyharborartandmusiccenter.com and scroll to see the schedule for both Safety Harbor and Dunedin.