Springfield Arts Council to kick off new entertainment series at COHatch

Springfield Arts Council will kick off a new entertainment series at COhatch Market on Thursday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Springfield Arts Council will kick off a new entertainment series at COhatch Market on Thursday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

The sounds you hear downtown the third Thursday of the month will be music from a monthly entertainment series the Springfield Arts Council (SAC) will launch on Thursday, Jan. 21.

The Downtown Sounds Series, presented with the Market Bar, will debut with The JT Hillier Duo, which will blend pop, alt-country, folk and soul, 7-9 p.m. at the Exchange in COHatch, 101 S. Fountain Ave.

Admission is free, with donations accepted. Social-distancing and masks are required to attend.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the SAC considered an additional series to complement its Broadway Series and Summer Arts Festival programming.

“This is keeping in line with our mission of bringing different arts to the public. The Summer Arts Festival is the cornerstone of what we do, but this is entertainment that works in a setting outside of the festival or Performing Arts Center, admission-free,” said SAC executive director Tim Rowe.

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This series’ inspiration came from Rowe attending booking festivals, discovering talented acts that may not work in the larger PAC or Veterans Park atmosphere but worthy of an audience. That’s where a more intimate setting like COHatch works.

Based in central Ohio, Hillier’s work is inspired by contemporary singer-songwriters including Ed Sheeran, John Mayer and Ryan Adams, and the late Michael Jackson, using a soulful vocal presence and finesse guitar styles. A link to Hillier’s version of Jackson’s “Billie Jean” is available on the SAC website.

Other series acts include multi-talented musician Theo Perry, who will bring a soulful show on Feb. 18, and acoustic ensemble Ghost Story Quartet, a group formed at Capital University’s Conservatory of Music, on March 18. Rowe chose the third Thursdays of the month as it would be a different night away from weekends when potential audiences may have other plans.

The SAC was able to secure sponsorships and advertisers for a program, including presenting partner The Clark County-Springfield Transportation Coordinating Committee. Any other proceeds raised will go toward SAC programs. The organization has been limited in presenting shows since the pandemic.

Rowe said they’ll be checking attendance figures and if they are good or moderate – taking into consideration some people who don’t want to go out due to safety concerns – there’s a chance for additional Downtown Sounds shows in April and May.

As the first three shows are a pilot program, the hope is Downtown Sounds could be a regular monthly show as safety conditions improve. Rowe can envision presenting at a variety of area venues, extending the SAC’s mission.

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“There are a lot of opportunities to bring high-quality performing arts to those audiences who may not attend shows at the Performing Arts Center or at the Art Festival. That’s what we do,” he said.

The Summer Arts Festival is in the very early planning stages according to Rowe.

“We’d like to move forward with it in some form,” he said. “It may be different than what people are used to, but keeping safety in mind and health protocols.”

An announcement regarding the festival should be forthcoming in the spring.

For more information on the Downtown Sounds Series, visits the SAC’s website or Facebook page.

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