After it opens next week, downtown Dayton’s new state-of-the-art music pavilion will host 34 free shows through early October.
In 2019 and beyond, the Levitt Pavilion Dayton will host at least 50 free concerts each year during the warmer months (June to early fall).
Interest has risen to the point that people are trying to pay for what is already free.
The Levitt Pavilion Dayton is getting emails and calls every day from people looking for tickets or more information about how to attend the performances.
But that’s what makes the pavilion special, say supporters. Across 50 shows, the pavilion will offer an estimated $11 million worth of programming at no cost to visitors.
Maybe it’s the slate of the artists that’s causing the confusion, said Lisa Wagner, executive director of the Levitt Pavilion Dayton.
Fans from as far as Indiana, Michigan and Georgia plan to attend the Aug. 11 concert of Paul Thorn and the Blind Boys of Alabama, which is part of the pavilion’s opening weekend.
Thorn and the Blind Boys of Alabama tickets at other venues across the country cost $30 or more. Tickets for a recent show in California cost as much as $57.50.
The pavilion’s official grand opening is on Thursday, Aug. 9, with a concert by award-winning Latin pop singer Gina Chavez.
The next evening, the pavilion hosts two-time Grammy winner Paul Brown, who will be accompanied by Chris Standring.
Twenty-four hours after that, Thorn and the Blind Boys take the stage.
And Sunday afternoon’s show is Trout Fishing in America, a Grammy-nominated group.
But the pavilion is a public space and is not enclosed by fencing. People can come and go as they please, and the cost is free.
The Levitt is seeking donations to help pay for operations, programming and other costs, but that’s completely voluntary.
“People don’t understand this is free … but if they love it and want to support it, we encourage them to donate,” Wagner said. “We’ll pass the bucket every night on the lawn, and hopefully people will support free music going forward.”
The Levitt offers about 25,000 square feet of lawn space, and during the shows, food trucks will be parked nearby, and there will be vendors selling concessions.
The teardrop lawn, directly in front of the stage, can accommodate about 2,500 visitors, which doesn’t count other grassy spaces and patio areas.
People can bring lawn chairs and alcoholic beverages, though glass containers are prohibited.
The Levitt seeks to remove barriers to music entertainment, like the cost of tickets, and hopefully will connect people through the shared experience of music, Wagner said.