Phase Three May Not Mean Much For Return Of Live Music
Virginia's third phase of reopening it's economy has lifted several restrictions on businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.
There are no longer capacity limits on non-essential retail stores and restaurants, though physical distancing is still required. The maximum gathering size is now 250, up from 50 people. Gyms can also operate at 75% capacity.
But in a last-minute announcement Tuesday before Phase Three took effect the next day, Gov. Ralph Northam said bars - where many bands perform - will remain closed. The decision has had an immediate effect on Hampton Roads' music industry.
Mike Adams is a drummer for The Ben Phelps Project. He said the band's Independence Day plans changed soon after Northam's update.
“It was our first full-band gig and we were going to be indoors,” Adams said, referring to a performance the band scheduled for the holiday. “The stage is right in front of the bar, so we wouldn’t be playing to anybody.”
Instead, the band will be breaking down to a trio act and moving the show outside.
Like many other Hampton Roads bands, The Ben Phelps Project has had to adapt to what is normally a packed summer gig schedule. They've been making due with small performances outside.
“The outdoor gigs have been a huge help with keeping the band out there and the music going while still keeping social distancing and the proper things we need to do,” he said.
Still, venues and promoters say they're looking for other creative and safe ways to put on shows. It's not easy.
“There’s no telling when a normal kind of concert is going to be able to happen,” said Josh Coplon, who runs LAVA Presents - a live music and event promotion company in Hampton Roads. “I’m carefully watching and trying to think of new ways and ideas, like an outdoor show in some capacity or a drive-in show,” he said.
Performers said if there’s a silver lining to the situation, it could be the extra time for artists to work on new material.
“I think everyone is eager to play, but I also think the vibe I’m getting from other musicians is this downtime has been an opportunity to write more...to create more,” Adams said.
Maybe, that means fans could expect more new music when indoor venues reopen.