Back To Square One, Uh, Phase Two

Who would have ever thought that we would still be in Phase 2 lockdown? But public health is the highest concern right now.

Just like everyone else who’s involved in music in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana, when are we going to be able to enjoy live music a crowd? The upcoming 20th anniversary of Satchmo SummerFest has been cancelled, and in its place is the virtual event “Seven Days of Satch,” beginning July 27. We’ll be covering the event with our annual August paean to Louis Armstrong and WWOZ is re-running previous videos of the event.

Maybe I’m old school, but it’s never been difficult to view and enjoy music on my phone or my computer. Now when you’re with a bunch of other like-minded people enjoying music, well, that’s a whole other experience. There’s a sharing between musician and audience, and musician and musician, that lifts it up to another level entirely. But we take what we can get.

So I speculate on what the future of live music will be? No one will feel entirely safe until we have a vaccine that’s been widely disseminated to the public. So what options do we have in the meantime? Livestreaming platforms? Streaming events with paid ticketing? Drive-in concerts, locked in a car? Live music with social distancing (some great crowd vibe you get with that).

What about touring music? When and how will that come back? What about the ultimate expression of what we’re all about: our wonderful festivals?

Could we possibly deliver live music to a crowd that consistently wears masks? Already, there are too many who scoff at the need to wear a mask (and they don’t). Thrown in food and drinks, and forget about mask-wearing.

This is probably a great opportunity for some budding entrepreneur to figure out a way where we can gather together to listen to music at the same time. But so far, I haven’t seen it.

Musicians and bands who make their living via playing live are pretty much screwed right now. A friend who is an infectious disease doctor who’s been on the front lines of this pandemic told my bluntly that if he had to, he’d tell musicians to figure out another way to make a living other than playing live. “It’s not going to come back for a long time,” he said.

I also spoke to another friend in Austin about SXSW next year, usually in the second week of March. Right now, I was told, SXSW may only be a virtual event. WOW.

Will New Orleans—will anywhere—be able to claim itself as a music city? We talk about getting the economy back on track, about school opening. For people who love music, we’re absolutely starving.

Phase 2 means instead of music bubbling up from the streets, it’s buried until we can dig out of this awful pandemic.


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