Tune It Up Tuesdays in Sweet Home returns with venue change

City planners have long discussed using the block of 13th Avenue between Main and Long streets as a “festival street,” and now that proposed venue is going to get a dry run.

Tune It Up Tuesdays, which debuted last summer in the parking lot behind The Rio theater, is returning, but this time it’s going to be on 13th Avenue starting June 7.

The Oregon Jamboree and the city are partnering to put on the event, which will take place each Tuesday evening during the month of June, Jamboree Director Robert Shamek said. The City Council approved the plan at its May 24 meeting.

“Frankly, I think it’s a great pilot program,” said Blair Larsen, Sweet Home community and economic development director. He noted that Tune It Up Tuesdays is exactly the type of activity planners have envisioned in proposing that the street be reworked to accommodate such events.

An artist’s concept drawing shows possibilities for future use of 13th Avenue.

“It’s an opportunity to try it out without putting any money into it. How does it actually work in practice? Is the space adequate? Do people use it? How does it affect neighboring businesses? How do people react to the street closure?

“By trying it out, we get an idea of any rules or processes to have in place to mitigate any negative consequences.”

The city’s portable stage, which was used at last year’s Tune It Up Tuesdays, will be erected on 13th Avenue, which will be closed to traffic. The events will start at 5:30 p.m., which overlaps slightly with the Farmers Market, located a block away in the square between the library and old City Hall, which runs from 2 to 6 p.m., also starting June 7.

Shamek said each of the weekly events, on June 7, 14, 21 and 28, will include a headliner and what he called a “Battle of the Bands” leading into the main act.

Although the bands had not been finalized when Shamek spoke with a reporter, he said two will play each Tuesday from 5:30 to 6 p.m. and audience members can vote on their favorites. The top vote-getter will earn a slot to perform on the Deschutes Stage at this summer’s Oregon Jamboree July 29-31.

“After they’re done, the main artists will come on and play for 90 minutes,” Shamek said.

Headliners will be Kurt Van Meter on June 7, Jessie Leigh on June 14, Dry Canyon Stampede on June 21 and the Boondock Boys on June 28.

Tipsy Gypsy will provide a mobile bar serving beer and the Sweet Home High School Booster Club will offer food.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair.

As the city moves forward with plans for the former Morse Bros. Quarry land, colloquially known as Quarry Park, as an intended future concert venue, Larsen said that if this “experiment” works, the 13th Avenue venue would have a different purpose.

“I think it’s either in a supporting role (to Quarry Park) or a separate role,” he said. “If you look at the downtown use of public spaces, it’s not the same thing as a big concert venue, a dedicated concert area.

“This is all about bringing people downtown, where they can walk around, visit shops, traffic that makes the downtown vibrant and alive.”

The quarry property, he said, will be a venue for “very large events, things that won’t fit downtown.”

“Thirteenth Avenue is very much an urban experience,” Larsen said. “The quarry property is very much an open space park, a river-access kind of experience.

“That being said, I can certainly imagine the Jamboree having a main stage on the quarry property and having a smaller, more intimate stage downtown on 13th Avenue.”

Tune It Up Tuesdays will be a trial run.

“Does it work and do we like it? Is this something that warrants doing it again in the future, possibly putting money into it to make it more accommodating?”