Live at Levitt: The South Side’s Free Summer Concert Series

During the summer, Levitt Pavilion offers numerous free concerts for residents of the Lehigh Valley to enjoy on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Typically, audience members bring camping chairs and set up on the grass in front of the stage to enjoy the music. Shows at Levitt Pavilion are a great way to spend a summer evening, to see others, and to find a variety of artists in a wide array of genres, including but not limited to pop, R&B, blues, country, folk, and rock. In a world where our technological gadgets provide entertainment whenever we want, it can be difficult to find moments where our phones are not in our hands. Attending concerts at Levitt Pavilion allows us to unplug for a few hours and enjoy live music with our neighbors on beautiful summer evenings.

Over the next two months, Southsider will offer a series of articles about summer concerts at Levitt Pavilion, a part of SteelStacks center on the south side. Our aim is to better understand how these performances enrich the life of the Bethlehem community. Each concert review will explore the background and music of the performers and then discuss the way the performers impact the local community. Making the connection between each performance and the local community will emphasize the many ways that music can bring people together, while also encouraging our audience to explore new music.

Pictured: The SteelStacks logo.

When SteelStacks first opened in 2011, it represented a path to an economic resiliency for the city that was reeling after the closing of Bethlehem Steel. It was estimated to bring $39 million in economic activity to the city each year and, within six years, that estimate was surpassed as its annual economic impact swelled to $67 million. SteelStacks, as a tourist attraction and a popular location to host ticketed events, has certainly helped to strengthen the local economy, but beyond the economic impact, programming at the larger ArtsQuest Center on the SteelStacks campus has enriched the culture of Bethlehem. ArtsQuest, founded in 1984, is a non-profit organization that provides the Lehigh Valley with “art, culture, and educational programs” in an effort to cultivate community. The ArtsQuest Center was established at SteelStacks in 2011 and frequently hosts cultural events. Because of ArtsQuest’s diverse programming at SteelStacks and beyond, throughout the year community members can watch contemporary and classic films at Frank Banko at affordable prices, attend improv comedy or a ticketed show, take art classes, or enjoy the works of local visual artists at Banana Factory. With programming at Levitt Pavilion in the summer months, ArtsQuest ensures that all community members can access summer concerts that all ages will enjoy. By hosting these free concerts, ArtsQuest prioritizes cultivating the local community through accessible events. These concerts are so important because they provide a space for all members of the community to join together, have fun, and listen to new music. 

Over the next months, join Southsider in this series to better understand what these concerts bring to the community. We will explore the artists that visit Levitt Pavilion, themes in their music, and the experience of watching them play live. Through this series we will also aim to highlight the value of SteelStacks and the Levitt Pavilion venue to the Lehigh Valley community. As our world and the tools we use to navigate it are changing, we should utilize the opportunity given to us by the Levitt Pavilion concerts to be present in the moment. In doing so we might meet new people, find a new favorite musician, and experience the joy of dancing to live music with friends and strangers.

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