In a sense, this concert is a performance of defiance

By Sandra Dean-Marlow

Sandra Marlowe

More than ever, we need the arts. As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to socially distance for public health reasons, we are realizing how essential the performing arts are to the heartbeat of our humanity.

Now that venues have been closed, many of us miss the enjoyment of a night out to a South Valley Theatre show, a South Valley Symphony orchestra concert, or a live jazz performance. But, as they say, “the show must go on.” Artists can always tap into their creativity and find an innovative way to share their talent with their audience. That’s why I want to invite Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy residents to a “drive-in concert” starting 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, at Thorson’s Arena on Watsonville Road. The show will feature two acts: the country-blues band Graceland, headed by Robin Hambey, followed by me and a trio of renowned jazz cats Larry Dunlap, Jason Lewis, Dan Robbins, performing songs from my new CD, “The Heart Always Remembers.”

The idea for this special concert came from Robin when the COVID-19 crisis forced us to cancel performances for the CD release.  This included the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz. But Robin is friends with Morgan Thorson, the owner of the Thorson’s Arena site a few miles west of Morgan Hill. She thought its hard-pack parking lot would serve as a perfect spot to stage an outdoor concert on a nice fall evening. Morgan quickly agreed to the use of his property. Usually, the site features horse, cattle, canine events under covered arenas. But the parking lot is spacious for people to sit in their cars or on chairs they bring to the event.

In a sense, this concert is a performance of defiance. It’s done in a persevering spirit that tells the world we’re not going to let a tiny virus prevent us from enjoying our lives. We’re going to keep the arts alive and butts in seats  – even if we have to bring our own!  We still have the passion here in the South Valley region to do live performances. We have the resourcefulness to move from the old ways and find new ways to make it work for the public’s safety in these dangerous circumstances.

That’s the funny thing about human beings. When necessity forces us, we get innovative. You can see it in how so many people in the arts during the pandemic are now using video technology to put on performances that bring their talent to the audience on screens – locally and globally. It’s impressive how the South Valley Civic Theatre group is using streaming technology to broadcast some wonderful plays such as “Kalamazoo,” “Bad Auditions . . . on Camera,” and the heartfelt one-man show “Tru” where Bill Tindall plays author Truman Capote. Children are now in rehearsal with the TheaterFun group’s version of Disney’s “The Lion King,” which will be video-recorded at a local ranch early in October.  South Valley Symphony is working on a production of beloved holiday music to be recorded at Advent Lutheran Church and streamed at Christmas time. 

Artists are resilient. We are used to doing the most with the least. We can operate on a shoe-string, be creative with it, and still give the best of our talent. Maybe it’s that “the-show-must-go-on” mentality that gives us the drive to press on in the face of adversity.

Let us remember that the heart of all art is its connection with the community. When we come together to laugh and cry and ponder life through the magic of storytelling in a show or concert, we focus on our shared experiences, our collective existence on this planet. That’s especially important now. The spirit of the arts reminds us that, regardless of what trials the world is facing, we will get through this if we stick together around the values we humans hold in common.

Sandra Dean-Marlowe is a former Gilroy resident who now lives in Idaho. She is a jazz/blues vocalist/recording artist who (until the pandemic) performed at events, festivals, and clubs. Her website is www.





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