Ex-GREAT WHITE singer Jack Russell says that he had nothing to do with last week's concert in Dickinson, North Dakota by his former band.
Video footage of Thursday night's (July 9) outdoor performance — which was part of the town's "First On First: Dickinson Summer Nights" series — showed there were no safety restrictions at the event, with attendees standing shoulder to shoulder and not a single person wearing a mask.
Earlier today, Russell released a video message in which he clarified that he hasn't played under the name "GREAT WHITE" in more than a decade and revealed that he has not toured in over five months due to the coronavirus pandemic which is sweeping the globe.
Jack said: "Hey, this is Jack Russell from JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE. I heard a nasty rumor going around that we played in North Dakota on Thursday night. Let me just tell you one thing: We haven't played under the name 'GREAT WHITE' in almost 11 years. This is Jack Russell of JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE. If it doesn't say 'JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE,' it's not me or my band.
"I just want it to be known that we take this COVID thing very, very seriously, and everybody should be wearing a mask and people should be social distancing. And if you're not doing that, you're not doing your part. So, take it to task and wear a mask."
Russell and guitarist Mark Kendall founded GREAT WHITE in 1982. Both musicians were present at the 2003 show in Rhode Island where a fire caused by a pyrotechnic display claimed 100 lives. At the time of the incident, the group that was on the road was called JACK RUSSELL'S GREAT WHITE. Kendall said he was asked to join Russell and his solo band on the tour to help boost attendance. Kendall later explained that the name GREAT WHITE was displayed on the marquee outside The Station nightclub because the owner of the venue wanted to "sell more tickets."
The GREAT WHITE lineup that performed in North Dakota consisted of Kendall, keyboardist/guitarist Michael Lardie, drummer Audie Desbrow, bassist Scott Snyder and singer Mitch Malloy.
On Saturday night, the Kendall-led GREAT WHITE apologized for the conditions at the North Dakota show, saying that "the promoter and staff assured us of the safety precautions. Our intent was simply to perform our gig, outside, in a welcoming, small town. We value the health and safety of each and every one of our fans, as well as our American and global community."
While numerous events have been imposing restrictions, such as wearing masks and social distancing, "First On First" has no such rules in place.
"We do not have restrictions, believe it or not, we don't have any," April Getz, an event coordinator for Odd Fellows, which organizes, runs and comes up with the funding for the events, told The Dickinson Press. "It's one of those things where if people feel comfortable coming down and mixing and mingling, that's their personal choice. We're leaving it up to everybody that chooses to attend."
GREAT WHITE's next show is scheduled for August 7 at Fort Madison, Iowa's Riverfest FM festival, which is "absolutely happening" despite the pandemic. "With all of the uncertainty, it would have been easy to throw in the towel on this year, but we firmly believe that 'If we rock it, they will come' and boy, do we have a line-up that is prepared to do just that," the festival organizers wrote on Facebook.