Now in its 16th season, Levitt Pavilion remains a cornerstone of the Arlington arts and culture scene; and with hundreds of free concerts delivered over the years, it’s one of the best free entertainment options around.
We caught up with Levitt executive director Letatia Teykl, who took the helm of the organization in December 2019, to find out more about the latest at the Levitt:
Arlington Today: Imagine you’re chatting with someone at Starbucks, and they ask you about Levitt Arlington. What would you say?
Letatia Teykl: “In a nutshell, I’d say the Levitt is a beautiful outdoor space in downtown Arlington where people of all backgrounds and ages can enjoy free live music spanning many genres, or gather with the community to celebrate holidays or cultural and special events that reflect the rich tapestry of our city. Then, I’d invite them to join us on the lawn for our next concert night or event date. Visiting in person is the best way to understand the Levitt experience!”
AT: What’s on the Levitt calendar this fall?
LT: “Our fall lineup is truly amazing! We kick off Labor Day weekend with a Friday night performance from singer-songwriter Coffey Anderson, star of the Netflix series ‘Country Ever After.’ The next night we have Little Joe y La Familia, who, along with our Hispanic Heritage Celebration headliner Gary Hobbs (Oct. 7), are two legendary Tejano artists appearing this fall. On Sunday, we have Ruthie Foster, a Texas Music Hall of Fame member and multi-Grammy nominee.
“Another big date this fall is the Do Good Fest (Sept. 23, sponsored by National Life Group), featuring Mark Chesnutt, Jack Ingram, and Kaitlin Butts. Our spectacular closing weekend (Oct. 14-15) showcases Tank and The Bangas, a dynamic jazz-and-hip-hop group from New Orleans featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series; and the War Hippies, a duo of military vets-turned-country rock musicians. We have tons of other great shows in between. Go to our website and get those dates on your calendar!”
AT: Beyond offering free entertainment, what is the Levitt’s impact?
LT: “First, we are an economic and tourism driver for Arlington. Levitt guests spend money in Arlington before and after our events, especially in downtown. Next: We add value to the performing arts community in North Texas and beyond. Through our Share The Stage initiative, we book local artists as opening acts for all Levitt concerts. When everyone else shut down during the pandemic, we still put our artists on our stage and live streamed their concerts for anyone in the world to enjoy. We don’t just feature big name musicians, we also showcase emerging artists, many of whom are women or artists of color. Last but not least: The Levitt has emerged
as a vital gathering place in the heart of Arlington. We provide space for corporate events and non-profit meetings or fundraisers. Community members can rent our facility for important life celebrations, like weddings or anniversaries. In summary: people often think of the Levitt as just a concert venue, but if you look deeper, you’ll discover that we’re so much more.”
AT: You have fans who have been going to Levitt shows for 16 years. What keeps them coming back?
LT: “The biggest draw is our high-quality, well-produced concerts featuring diverse artists, from rising stars to Grammy winners, spanning classic rock, alt country, folk, R&B, and more. Then there’s the fact that there’s not a bad seat on the lawn, even if you sit at the back. You can purchase delicious food from our eclectic food truck fleet, or you can pack a cooler with your favorite wine and snacks and keep your evening completely cost free. There’s our VIP Levitt Center, which offers an elevated deck with a grand view of our stage and downtown Arlington. There are just so many things that make the Levitt special, including free live music under the stars—it doesn’t get much better than that!”
AT: As the Levitt’s leader, what drives you? What’s on your mind when you get up in the morning?
LT: “Running a venue like the Levitt requires tons of coordination with multiple people and organizations, so I’m usually thinking about who I need to call or email that morning to make sure we’re ready for the next event. What drives me is delivering an exceptional experience for our guests, as well as safeguarding while also expanding the Levitt’s status as a cultural and community resource. Our core product will always be free live music, but even as we were pivoting to respond to the pandemic, we began introducing new cultural events, like the American Muslim Cultural Celebration and our Asian Heritage Celebration, among others.”
AT: If you could wave your magic wand and make three things happen for the Levitt, what would they be?
LT: “My first wish is for more companies and people to financially support the Levitt, which is a non-profit organization. Our concerts are free to the community, but producing them and paying our artists isn’t. Second wish: That everyone who visits the Levitt and loves it will come back and bring a friend. Third wish: No rain on concert nights!”
The Levitt’s fall concert season starts Labor Day weekend and runs through October 14. Find out more at levittpavilionarlington.org