MUSCATINE, Iowa–Since ragtime music lovers and birdwatchers last united in January of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way big gatherings take place. To adapt to the times, the 27th annual Eagles and Ivories Ragtime Weekend will adopt a virtual format this year, allowing ragtime fans to enjoy the concert remotely while holding out hope that Eagles and Ivories’ 2022 events can once again take place in person.
As the date for Eagles and Ivories drew near, members of the Muscatine County Arts Council felt a virtual concert offered the best way for them to allow artists to perform while keeping everyone involved safe. “With COVID–19 and not sure of where things would be in January, the committee made the decision to help support the performers that were scheduled to perform at this year’s event,” asserted Muscatine County Arts Council member Ed Chamberlin. “Instead of canceling this year’s event, we felt this would be a way of reaching our audience and expand it to a larger worldwide audience.”
Because of the online format, Eagles and Ivories will not include the guided morning of eagle spotting or some of the smaller concerts and activities it typically does. However, the signature concert, scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 30, will still feature the full lineup of acclaimed performers who would have played in person. This will include such local and regional favorites as Anne and Jeff Barnhart, Chase Garret, Brian Holland and Danny Coots, and Steve Pikal.
Anyone looking to jazz up their weekend can view the concert live on either Facebook or Youtube. Though viewers may watch the concert for free on either of these platforms, the Muscatine County Arts Council does encourage them to donate what they can to support this one of a kind event by visiting the Muscatine County Arts Council webpage. “It is important to help support the arts during these times–most musicians have not been able to perform because of COVID” emphasized Chamberlin.
Along with their online festivities, the Muscatine County Arts Council will also host a socially distanced Eagles and Ivories watch party at the Merrill Hotel. From 7 until 9 p.m., attendees can enjoy the performance on the big screen while sampling food and taking advantage of a cash bar. Admittance to the watch party will cost $10, and all attendees must wear a mask and respect social distancing requirements.