The First Drive-in Concert During the Pandemic 2020

On March 8th, we watched in curiosity and horror how the world started to shut down. My husband, a musician, saw gig after gig and an entire international tour canceled in the span of a few weeks. Our children were sent home from school, and restaurants, bars, shops even outdoor spaces shuttered. We were nervous. How long would this last? How dangerous was COVID-19?

Amidst the fear, an idea was born. It came to me in the shower, as most good ideas do. And when I rushed out and told my husband, I was shaking with excitement. Literally shaking, because I could sense what this could become. He agreed to do it, being no stranger to busking in the street corners of Paris, and really, was this that much different? We would host the concerts on our 15 acre property in Yucca Valley, CA, a small town just minutes away from Joshua Tree National Park.

 

So we hastily put a plan together: we got the word out to the community via social media, and only opened up spots for 10 cars. The registration filled up quickly – people had to send us their name, car make/model, and number of passengers. Everyone was to stay in their car, and they could hear the concert through the radio or with their windows down (masks on).

We rolled out a green carpet on the floor, hooked up some Bose speakers to a small generator, and waited as the first cars arrived. I checked everyone in and reminded all attendees to please respect the social distancing guidelines and wear their masks, as we really wanted this to work and it would only do so with the cooperation of everyone involved.

cars surround the Joshua Tree at our first drive-in concert

And it did – the community showed up, giving us confidence that yes, this was an idea with legs. And they kept showing up, for the next weekend, and the next, and the next….

We built a website, built a reservation form, started accepting donations, and started getting more and more requests from artists to join us. We kept the shows free, so as to not prevent anyone from enjoying a little bit of live music and nature during the stressful times we were in. Because both those things – music and nature – are incredibly healing for the soul. They remind us of the beauty in being alive, of the things that make life worth living.

At that point, no other venue or artist or organization were doing drive-in concerts. We were literally the first to host drive-in concerts in California, in the United States, and quite possibly the world. There were challenges of course, including getting permits or even navigating the legalities of such a concept given the stay at home orders. But one thing we believed in, and which is at the core of our values: the arts should be accessible to all, because they provide healing and hope to humanity.

One year later, we are fundraising for a second season, having hosted over 70 shows, invited over 100 artists, hosted thousands of guests in hundreds of cars, with over 25 5-star google reviews, and numerous articles in the press, some front page, we are humbled yet proud of the legacy that Mon Petit Mojave has created, and the beauty it has brought to the community in keeping the arts alive.

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