Wednesday, 17 March 2021 12:35

COLUMN: Musicians see light at the end of the COVID tunnel

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There seems to be some glimmer of light at the end of the COVID tunnel for working/touring musicians. 


It has now been a year since many have actually played a “live concert” indoors or even an outdoor event. I know so many sound engineers, lighting engineers, band members, management and road crew members who haven’t had a paycheck in a very long time. And aside from them, there are countless venues that haven’t put on a concert in a year. The sad fact here is some haven’t been able to hold on and have had to close their doors for good. I am in hopes those that fell can somehow get back up and reopen again. But there seems to be more than just hope now because there are some shows finally being spotted on the calendars.

Gov't Mule for example are among many that have just made an announcement they will be back in action playing live shows starting at the end of April. Management for Idlewild South, the band I travel with, has us scheduled for dates scattered across six states starting in mid-April. And there are several being negotiated and hopefully more will be added soon. If it continues to build, we might be able to salvage 2021 in a positive manner — much more so than 2020, which was a total loss.

These shows are not wide open as before. Due to the restrictions of each state they will be under strict rules that everyone must comply with to make them happen. 

For example, The Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh is a mid-sized concert hall with a mezzanine. Idlewild South is scheduled back in April doing two shows, an early show and a late show, and each will have a guest opener. The personnel there will clear the floor after the first show to clean and sanitize the entire area. After that is done the doors will open about 30minutes or so allowing concert goers back into the theatre. There will be pods marked and your group must remain in the pod with beverage service being brought to you. There will not be any service from the bar by any patron, only staff will have that access. Masks of course will be a requirement unless you are drinking a beverage of choice. In addition, there will be tables that can be purchased, and again, each group there at each table must remain at that spot. There will not be any mingling around the floor during the concerts. Other restrictions such as passes in and out of the building will be prohibited and I am sure I have left out something.  Regarding capacity, it will be held to a minimum — hence the idea of putting on two shows. This has been designed to maximize the minimum. Does that make sense? I think so.  

This is just one example of what larger venues must do at this time to keep the lights on. And from what I can gather, ticket sales have been brisk and I expect it to sell out. Even with having two shows, it will not equal having a full house as before — but at least it is a start.

It seems every touring musician I know is willing to do whatever it takes and will play by every rule if it means getting back on stage under the lights giving the fans what they want. Every major venue has been literally closed for a year. Now, with a little bit of leeway, they are able to at least open the doors with various restrictions in place.

So please, support the concert halls, theatres and any other place that hosts live music. I know many of you are so ready for live music. See you at a concert.

John Martin, of Hamlet, is a drummer/percussionist for Idlewild South, an Allman Brothers tribute band, and for guitarist Jonathan Robinson.