Veteran hard rockers GREAT WHITE have apologized for the conditions at their show this past Thursday night (July 9) in Dickinson, North Dakota. Video footage of the outdoor concert — 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 tonight, GREAT WHITE released the following statement to BLABBERMOUTH.NET via the band's publicist: "GREAT WHITE would like to address our Thursday, July 9, at First On First Dickinson Summer Nights concert in North Dakota.
"We understand that there are some people who are upset that we performed this show, during this trying time. We assure you that we worked with the Promoter. North Dakota's government recommends masks be worn, however, we are not in a position to enforce the laws.
"We have had the luxury of hindsight and we would like to apologize to those who disagree with our decision to fulfill our contractual agreement.
"The Promoter and staff were nothing but professional and 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.
"We are far from perfect."
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."
As of Saturday (July 11), there have been a total of 4,243 confirmed coronavirus cases in North Dakota. A total of 87 people have died so far in the state as a result of COVID-19. 83 percent of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in North Dakota to date have recovered from the virus.
An average of around 3,700 tests are being conducted daily in North Dakota, where the positivity rate has remained relatively low. 4,327 tests were conducted Friday, yielding a 2% positivity rate.
North Dakota's pandemic-high number of active cases came May 21, when 670 residents were infected.
Earlier in the month, founding GREAT WHITE singer Jack Russell — who is no longer in the group and who was not at the North Dakota concert — blasted people who refuse to wear a mask in public spaces to protect others from possible infection. He said: "The way it works out, if I just wear [my mask], I'm not that safe. If you put yours on too, I'm 70 percent safe as opposed to being zero-point-something [safe]. It's amazing the amount that it changes. It's, like, if you don't wanna help yourself, help everybody else. 'Well, it's my right. It's my human right.' Well, look, dude, you've gotta pay for your car to get smogged, you've gotta have a seat belt, you have a driver's license, you have to have a license to be born, you have to have a marriage license. I mean, so you have to wear a mask for a while so you don't die. What's the problem?"
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."
Photo credit: Neil Zlozower