Live at Five is back, celebrating music, culture, unity

Published 10:57 pm Saturday, April 27, 2024

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Among the many ways to spend a Friday afternoon in Natchez, I personally can’t think of any better than fresh air, good people, and live music. So it should come as no surprise that one of my absolute favorite series of events in Natchez is Live at Five. The concert series has quietly blossomed into a community highlight.

For those of you that aren’t aware, Live at Five puts on two “concert series” each year, a Spring and Fall series. Each Friday during these respective series, locals and visitors alike gather to enjoy an evening of free live music, courtesy of an initiative spearheaded by the volunteerism of Sarah Lindsey Laukhuff. The event, born during the challenging times of the pandemic, has become a Natchez mainstay.

I spoke to Sarah Lindsey, now Director of Sales at the Natchez Grand Hotel, about the origins of the event. “When I moved back to Natchez, I brought up the idea of starting something like the ‘Live at Five’ events I’d seen in other cities,” she explains. “There wasn’t much excitement at first, but the pandemic changed that, creating a need for safe, outdoor gatherings.”

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Laukhuff applied for and received a small stimulus grant which helped launch the series, making every dollar stretch to cover essentials. “It started with just four bands, and we had to be creative with the budget,” she says. This humble beginning and Sarah Lindsey’s determination laid the groundwork for what would go on to become a recurring staple of Natchez’s cultural scene. Today, finding that their missions align, Live at Five is also a proud member of the Natchez Community Alliance. Laukhuff noted that the lineup for Live at Five is chosen to intentionally be energetic and “something people can move and dance to.”

Live at Five is more than just a music event; it’s the perfect example of a core strategy that DNA encourages downtown revitalization. It’s placemaking at its finest. It’s the creation of a communal space that welcomes everyone. There are no tickets, no barriers — just music in the air and people swaying to the rhythm. “The whole purpose of it is to be a free, family-friendly concert. It’s about bringing people together.”

From the time you approach the area, Live at Five is a very non-commercial feeling event. There are purposefully no vendors, just a single Live at Five merch-tent offering hand-dyed t-shirts to help further fund the 501(c)3’s continued efforts, the tie-dye t-shirts are hand-dyed by Laukhuff on her dining room table.

But while you don’t need money to enjoy Live at Five, that isn’t to say that it doesn’t have a significant economic impact on Downtown Natchez.

“Live music draws people downtown, and while they’re here, they visit other local businesses, boosting our economy.” In fact, Laukhuff noted that the lack of vendors was actually a conscious decision, designed to direct spending to existing local businesses.

To that end, local businesses have become integral supporters of the concert series, with many becoming sponsors. This collaboration not only helps sustain the event but also encourages concertgoers to explore what downtown Natchez has to offer. Live at Five has proven to be a powerful force for community bonding and economic vitality. Its success is a reflection of Natchez’s identity itself — we’re a town that values our culture and local businesses. And we value each other.

I have seen men and women, children and adults, of all ages, all classes, means, races, occupations, of all political persuasions and religions – I have seen them dancing in unity with joy in their hearts and light in their eyes, together, on the highest bluff; and for that, I have Live at Five to thank, but also Natchez as a whole.

Michael Wilson is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Downtown Natchez Alliance (DNA). He can be reached at