Venue change prompts bands battle

Contributed photo | Band of Oz will return to Lumberton for a free show on Thursday night as part of the Alive After 5 concert series. The band’s current lineup consists of Keith Houston, David Hicks, Chuck French, David Franks, Jerry West, Scott Fine, Tim Morris and Daniel Morris.

LUMBERTON — A decision to move tonight’s Alive After 5 out of the downtown area has resulted in a proverbial battle of the bands.

In one corner, there’s Band of Oz, a beach music group that was originally scheduled to perform in downtown Lumberton as part of the city sponsored concert series, but the show was moved to the Southeastern Agriculture Events Center by Connie Russ, the city’s downtown coordinator, as a precaution against the rain.

In the other corner, there’s The Carolina Breakers, which also specializes in beach music and will perform at Candy Sue’s restaurant. The owner of the restaurant, Susan Walker, booked the bank apparently in protest of Russ’ decision, which Walker says will cost her business.

Walker’s restaurant is located across the street from the Third Street parking lot where Alive After 5 is typically held. She feels the change of venue undermines the concert series’ mission to bring more traffic downtown.

“The small businesses rely on people coming into the center of our town,” Walker said Wednesday, before it was learned that she had booked an alternate band. “It defeats the whole purpose of the city sponsoring the event. … No one will come into town and buy gas or dinner.”

The Carolina Breakers will perform at 8 p.m., putting the show in direct competition with Band of Oz, which will perform from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

Although Alive After 5 events in the past have been rescheduled because of rain, Russ opted not to postpone the show and risk concert-goers missing the makeup date. If postponed, Thursday’s show would have had to be held on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, or sometime in November, she said.

The chance of rain when Russ made the decision on Wednesday morning was about 60 percent, but it has since gone down to about 20 percent..

“This is one of the best bands of the season and I didn’t want to cancel,” Russ said. “I had rather move the location and still give people the opportunity to attend.”

The Southeastern Agriculture Events Center can be used as an indoor and outdoor venue, which eliminates the risk of the show being rained out.

“I think it was a great show of partnership from the Events Center to allow the city of Lumberton to use this venue on such short notice. I can’t think of a better location to accommodate this band and the people who will be there to hear them,” Russ said.

Russ expects the concert series will weather the storm.

“Yes, it’s out there, but that depends on where you are coming from. I am personally excited about this one-time venue change and I hope people will come out to support the band and Rediscover Downtown Lumberton,” she said.

There have been two Alive After 5 events this year, both in May. The series will continue with three more events after tonight’s, on June 11, June 18 and June 25, when The Carolina Breakers actually concludes this year’s series.