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COVID-19 positive pulls Shovels & Rope off the road, Columbia Speedway concert canceled

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Shovels & Rope won't play the Columbia Speedway this week. Kalyn Oyer/Staff

COVID-19 has triggered a major cancellation on Columbia's events calendar.

Shovels & Rope, the Charleston duo famed for their stripped-back folk-rock intensity and founding North Charleston's beloved High Water music festival, have canceled three dates, including a May 1 appearance at the Cola Concerts series at the Columbia Speedway Entertainment Center. The dates were called off due to a coronavirus outbreak among the band, Joe Chambers of the OK Communications Group, who handles press for Cola Concerts, confirmed to Free Times.

Chambers forwarded a statement from the band:

"A quick note from our Shoro family about this week’s upcoming shows. After a year of very careful living, that dang Rona finally caught up with us right before we were going to head out to start playing some shows. Sadly this means we will have to miss our appearances at Moon Crush, Mile O Fest, and the speedway in Columbia next week.

"So far, our biggest symptom is the powerful regret we feel for having to back out of scheduled shows for our fans, but alas, such is life during a pandemic. These variants are contagious as hell, and we’re not out of the woods just quite yet, so we encourage everyone to stay vigilant. We are going to quarantine up, let this thing clear out so we aren’t contagious, get our vax (vaccine), and be right back out there for anything else we’ve got on the schedule for the rest of the summer."

This is the first hitch in what has been a strong spring for Cola Concerts, the socially distanced series that spent $1.3 million installing roped-off seating coves and a top-flight festival stage and sound system at the Speedway.

Rising bluegrass star Billy Strings performed a successful four-night stand to kick off the venue's return to business at the beginning of April. Popular Americana singer Grace Potter is set to take to the Speedway on April 29, and Trampled by Turtles (June 24) and Tedeschi Trucks (June 26) were recently added to a calendar that already included Mt. Joy (May 15), Indigo Girls (May 26) and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (Sept. 2).

Rising COVID-19 case numbers and inclement weather forced several postponements and one cancellation among Cola Concerts' opening slate last fall, with just four of the nine touring headliners making it to the stage on their original dates.

Shovels & Rope had been rescheduled twice since being announced as Cola Concerts' first big show in November.

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