Celebrate Shelton goes virtual with July 17 concert

Photo of Brian Gioiele
Celebrate Shelton founders Jimmy Tickey, left, Nicole Mikula and Michael Skrtic.

Celebrate Shelton founders Jimmy Tickey, left, Nicole Mikula and Michael Skrtic.

Contributed photo

SHELTON — Celebrate Shelton is not letting cancellation of its popular summer concert series prevent it from bringing the community together for a night of music and magic.

This private, city-wide group — formed in 2014 by small business owners Nicole Mikula, Michael Skrtic and Jimmy Tickey — will go online, presenting a one-night, virtual Downtown Sounds summer concert Friday evening in place of the annual three-week concert series.

The event will kick-off with Kids Hour with Danny Magic, followed by live music from Phat A$tronaut and The Alpaca Gnomes. The four-hour livestream can be found live on Celebrate Shelton’s Facebook page (@CelebrateShelton) and on bit.ly/celebratesheltonlive beginning at 5 p.m.

“This was the safest option,” Mikula said. “Although it is not ideal, this was a huge opportunity for us to stay connected with the community … to bring people together.”

Celebrate Shelton’s summer concert series has become an annual tradition, with thousands converging on the city’s downtown area for concerts, food and a chance to visit the numerous area small businesses.

“We knew the concert series was not going to happen, but we just did not want to say to people ‘see you next year,’” Tickey said.

“We decided we needed to create something where we can be together,” added Tickey, “continuing the traditions started by Celebrate Shelton and help promote our downtown businesses community.”

The state and CDC guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic call for crowds for such concerts of no more than 100 people. Tickey said the downtown concert series draws hundreds, so the trio knew early on that holding the three outdoor concerts — which feature a children’s magic show, musical entertainment and food — was not an option.

“It would have been irresponsible to bring people together. … It would send the wrong message to even try as we stand right now,” said Tickey, referring to the state protocols which have helped keep Connecticut cases and hospitalizations from skyrocketing in recent weeks.

Once Celebrate Shelton learned that Liberty Bank would continue its financial support of the summer event, Mikula said the trio turned to producers and video editors to formulate a plan to offer a virtual concert.

Working with immensely popular videographer Dave Peck, known throughout the virtual world as MKDevo, Mikula said Celebrate Shelton created a concept bringing together the children’s magic hour, with pre-taped downtown business promotional pieces and greetings from community leaders.

“(Peck) was a huge resource for us. … He is bringing this performance to life,” said Mikula, adding that the concert will feature multiple camera angles during the concert.

The musical performances will be streamed live, with the groups playing at Shelton’s Center Stage Theatre. Mikula said all bands and those individuals working on location are taking all necessary safety protocols while on site.

“This will be a visual experience,” Tickey said. “We think this is a wonderful way to bring people together.”

Hailing from New Haven, Phat A$tronaut is an organically grown, experimental soul ensemble. The Alpaca Gnomes are a vibrant, foot-stomping seven-piece original rock/folk/jam band out of Bridgeport consisting of violin, electric and acoustic guitar and vocals, bass, drums, percussion, and saxophone

Event sponsors include Liberty Bank, Tuttle Insurance, MKDEVO Productions, Center Stage Theatre, the City of Shelton, Apple Rehab, Hawks Ridge of Shelton, D’Addario of Shelton, Curtis Ryan Honda of Shelton, Cohen & Thomas, Christopher Douglas, Venmo & Co., Boys Scouts of America Housatonic Council, and DSA Companies.

Celebrate Shelton focuses on community arts engagement in downtown Shelton and over the last six years has hosted Downtown Sounds Summer Concerts, Food Trucks on the River, Mamas & Mimosas and the annual Community Tree Lighting.