Downtown Hammond enjoys live music while social distancing


Brynn Lundy/The Lion's Roar

Tyler Kinchen & The Right Pieces is an R&B band out of the southeast Louisiana area. They performed at the Cate Street Park gazebo in Hammond for “Picnic in the Park,” an event hosted by the Hammond Downtown Development District.

The Hammond Downtown Development District hosted “Picnic in the Park,” an outdoor live concert event open to guests of all ages in Cate Square Park on Friday, Sept. 25.

Attendees were encouraged to socially distance and to bring their own blankets, chairs, masks and favorite takeout orders to experience local group Tyler Kinchen & The Right Pieces perform in the park’s gazebo.

Caleb Kinchen, a university alumnus, is the bass player and co-founder of Tyler Kinchen & The Right Pieces. He mentioned that the band has played at many venues in Hammond in the past, as well as various locations around the country.

Kinchen shared how he and the band, several members of which are university alumni, felt about playing in Hammond again. He said the city is like a second home to them.

“There is always something special about performing in a place that has known us for so long and showed us so much love,” expressed Kinchen.

Due to the cancellation of live shows across the state and nation, Kinchen mentioned the band has had sporadic performances over the past several months. The band put extra effort and creativity into playing for live audiences every chance they got, according to Kinchen.

“We, Tyler Kinchen & The Right Pieces, put a lot of physicality and energy into each of our shows to make it the most memorable it can be for the audience,” said Kinchen. “With COVID-19 and the medical regulations in place, we have had to think outside of the box.”

The Hammond DDD held “Hot August Month” last month, but “Picnic in the Park’’ was the first crowd-gathering event hosted since the outbreak of COVID-19, according to Chelsea Tallo Little, executive director of the Hammond DDD.

Kati Morse, assistant director of the Hammond DDD, explained that there was a “Picnic in the Park” event at the end of “Hot August Month.” She said it rained, but guests still attended and even expressed that they wanted to experience another event similar to that one.

“They wanted live music in the park where they can bring their kids and socially distance,” said Morse. “We had so many people tell us that we have to do it again. We called one of our favorite local bands, saw that they were available, picked a date and started advertising for it.

“Picnic in the Park” happened to fall on attendee Elizabeth Fako’s 30th birthday. She shared why she decided to go see the show in Downtown Hammond.

“We love being outdoors, and the weather’s finally nice,” shared Fako. “It’s kind of the first time in 2020 we could be at an event like this, and we love live music.”

Tallo Little said they expressed caution when planning the event. There were concerns, but the Hammond DDD provided hand-washing stations, free masks, hand sanitizer and signage to encourage social distancing.

“You have to, with the phases of COVID right now, but we put signs everywhere and we’ve been walking around,” said Tallo Little. “People are very respectful, at least for today, of social distancing and staying in their groups. We were concerned, but I think our community is responsible.”

Being able to perform in front of a live crowd in their hometown felt good, according to Kinchen. However, they still had to keep health and safety in mind.

“We cannot wait to be with people again,” said Kinchen. “With that being said, we need to make sure we are doing our part so that people are not being put at risk.”