Digital Exclusive: Showtime as ‘NEPA Comes Together

Digital Exclusive

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It was the day many have been waiting for in NEPA. A rock concert in a parking lot for a good cause. But exactly how safe could it be?

“We spoke with local county and township officials and made sure they were comfortable with us doing what we’re doing. We’re comfortable with it as well. You’re going to have the maximum of four people in each vehicle. They get out and have their own tailgating space so no more than four people are in each designated space with at least 10 feet of space between them and the next group. We found a way to make this safe and also fun at the same time. We’re going to be vigilant. People are going to follow the rules and if they do, people are going to have a great time and be safe,” Mohegan Sun Arena general manager Will Beekman said.

The mega-concert in the parking lot of Mohegan Sun Arena, green-lit. The two weeks of planning and execution with the proceeds going to venues and non-profits stricken by COVID shutdowns.

“All of our friends in the industry are out of work between the musicians and the buildings and venues that house those musicians. Everybody’s shut down,” Gallery of Sound owner and concert co-creator Joe Nardone, Jr. said.

With most of the heavy lifting done, Thursday was showtime with a special opening act. The teens of the Rockology Music Academy took the stage and kicked out the jams.

“This stage is giant. I’ve never played on a stage that big. And watching it all get orchestrated? It was really cool,” Joe Nardone III of Rockology Music Academy said.

“I like a lot of the bands that are on this bill. A lot of the people in these bands have inspired me to play music and live out my dream. It’s just an honor to be here playing with them,” Gabe Josefowicz of Rockology Music Academy said.

“Being able to open for everybody here and basically being the first ones ever to perform on a stage like this, after coronavirus, was really awesome and a really great opportunity I’m grateful I was able to have,” Cat Havrilla of Rockology Music Academy said.

The socially distanced crowd? More than eager to be a part of the experience for the first time in months.

“It’s honestly surreal. It’s the first live music I’ve seen, probably, since February. And to see such great bands come together for a good cause is definitely the best part of it,” Austin Catania of Clarks Summit said.

Those bands donating their time and efforts, overlooking a crowd who recognize what the show was really about.

“You see so many places where the arts are getting destroyed. Right now it’s all these people coming together to support each other. I think that’s something that’s really critical to this area, is that we do come together for the arts,” Catania said.

11 bands in total with some ties to the area and varying amounts of notoriety. A first for many.

“This was an absolute great night. I believe it was a huge success. We’re happy to be here and this is the first time we’ve ever played a drive-in show ever, I believe,” Dustin Douglas of Dustin Douglas & the Electric Gentlemen said.

“It’s definitely one for the bucket list, playing a drive-in show almost like a drive-in movie theater,” Matthew Gabriel of Dustin Douglas & the Electric Gentlemen said.

As coronavirus restrictions keep people away from large, open crowds? The drive-in concert is here to stay, for now.

“I definitely think more people will be on board in the future. I just think everybody needs to start hearing about it and come out to see it for themselves,” Catania said.

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