In less than a week a few venues like Freight & Salvage and Rancho Nicasio, which cut their music voluntarily, have been joined by shelter-in-place orders for California. Orders or not, the entire nation is jittery, and festivals, tours and gathering spaces are feeling it. The latest prediction is this will peak in 45 days which means another 45 days after “peak,” all things being equal, which they’re not. Venues and musicians are taking a hit, not so much from coronavirus, but from coronanomics.
Social media is buzzing with musicians’ postings about the hard times upon them. The venues aren’t quite so vocal, but their positions are no less precarious.
Consider the Rite Spot, a cozy bar and restaurant that’s establishing it’s music permit. The club had presented live music for years but only recently applied for a permit — a very expensive process. And then there’s Amnesia which closed for the month of March, to refresh its business model. Their refresh button is now a pause button, and a costly one. And woe to Biscuits & Blues which had already been closed for almost a year as they’ve wrestled with site problems not of their own making. They’d just cleared a major hurdle toward reopening when the sheltering order came out. Ouch.
What can we do about it, especially since holding a benefit concert is out of reach? One thought comes from the gay community which has already launched a “SF Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund.” This rapid set-up was facilitated by the fact that the LGBTQ community has had long-standing mutual support networks. Hicks with Sticks has contacted the fund’s organizers to learn what’s to be learned about setting up a fund for Bay Area music. Can we less organizationally-minded folk get something like this together for clubs and musicians? Comments are open.