May 9—DERRY, N.H. — The outdoor, drive-in sounds of the season continue at the Tupelo Music Hall.
The Derry venue is once again offering the Tupelo Drive-In Experience in the parking lot, inviting cars full of music fans to park and listen to concerts presented on the stage at the main entrance of the building.
Vehicles began to line up along A Street near the Tupelo more than an hour before the first showtime Saturday that featured Broken Arrow, a Neil Young tribute band. That included Kevin McDonough and many other regulars at the Tupelo, along with some coming to an outdoor performance for the first time.
McDonough said all in his party were vaccinated and ready to enjoy some outdoor sounds.
"Things are getting better," he noted.
The drive-in experience started last summer, with many sold-out shows and only one cancelled due to bad weather, according to Tupelo owner Scott Hayward.
This year's schedule is beefed up a bit, Hayward said, with about five shows planned per week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Hayward said plans are also in place to reopen for indoor shows later this summer with bands like Three Dog Night and Air Supply set to take the indoor Tupelo stage.
Other notable names making the Tupelo lineup later this year are LeAnn Rimes, Blue Oyster Cult and Christopher Cross.
The pandemic's challenges have continued to plague entertainment sites and venues, and the Tupelo was not immune to those challenges.
When the Tupelo, like many others, had to close the doors and shutter its stage a year ago due to COVID-19, Hayward spoke out about the challenges and heartache he had to deal with, supporting his staff, canceling shows, and wondering if any of those shows would be rescheduled.
Many artists planned for the Tupelo stage had canceled their complete tours.
Hayward and his wife Julie took on other ventures to support the community and the business, including a Family Meals and Supplies Program that offered freshly made meals and other staples like paper products to those in need, and also for patrons who wanted to continue to support the music venue.
As the weather got warmer last year, bringing a drive-in option to the music hall seemed like another good idea.
And the musicians were grateful they had a place to play, Hayward said.
Hayward gave a big shoutout to the town of Derry, saying officials "bent over backward" to help him stay in business.
The physical layout of the Tupelo building and parking area were also conducive for a drive-in plan.
Hayward is looking forward to the months ahead, and plans to reopen the indoor venue at the end of August.
"We will do it in a way that's safe," he said.
Calling the current times "transitional," Hayward also offered much support for his fellow businesses and those working hard to keep entertainment venues open.
"We'll keep moving," he said.