Downtown pavilion/stage kicks off with outdoor performance

Apr. 4—With white paint on the back wall barely dry, Josh Hass and the Brushpoppers held the inaugural concert on the new downtown pavilion/outdoor stage.

The band braved a blustery breeze Tuesday evening to preform a set during the Sip and Shop downtown shopping event hosted by The Railway District, a nonprofit group of merchants and property owners along Choctaw Avenue in downtown McAlester.

Mike Pruitt, who contracted with the city of McAlester to oversee the project, said he wants to add a few more touches, including the addition of a railway light to be suspended from the top of the stage, which is on S. First. Street adjacent to the downtown Choctaw Avenue intersection.

A mural to adorn the back wall is also under consideration, but the stage is set and ready to go, as evidenced by the Tuesday evening performance by the band.

Josh Hass and the Brushpoppers tore through a spirited set, attracting an audience of listeners despite the chilly outdoor temperatures.

During the soundcheck, bassist Adam Gronwald asked Hass to play something with a different sound to check out the sound system levels.

He offered something completely different, as the band stepped out of their usual Americana/country style and tore into Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love."

Kristen Lloyd, of Common Root Mercantile and an officer with The Railway District, collected money for the downtown stage several years ago when the Streetscapes project was underway.

The project came to a standstill when some initial estimates for the project came in at around $400,000.

Enter Mike Pruitt, who said he could get the project completed for less than $100,000. The city contracted with Pruitt for the project and he brought it in under budget, essentially finished by his self-imposed April 1 deadline.

Lloyd is among those who are elated to see the structure built.

"I'm so excited," she said. "I'm so glad to see it."

Lloyd said she can't wait to see others use the downtown pavilion/outdoor stage as well.

She said plans are underway to have it decorated in time for this year's Armed Forces Day Parade, set for Saturday May 4.

Josh Hass and the Brushpoppers consists of Hass on vocals and guitar; Joey Clark, lead guitar; Micky Lloyd, rhythm guitar; Adam Gronwald bass, Jered Weeks drums, and Rachel Gronwald, vocals and keyboard.

Pruitt said as soon he got the last of the paint applied on the stage's back wall Tuesday and then removed the working materials, someone was ready to use it. They waited patiently while he finished. Pruitt said.

Then a mother, daughter and photographer used the just-finished new stage for a photo shoot, he said — indicating to him it's going to be a popular addition to downtown McAlester.