It is still hard to believe that performances to live audiences indoors stopped fourteen months ago. At the Straw Bear after-party at the Falcon Hotel in Whittlesey in January 2020, we played to a packed function room, with the audience singing along to ‘500 Miles’ and other classics. Following that, we had just three open mics in February before the first lockdown brought everything to a dead stop. Since then we’ve all been in a weird state of limbo, with just the odd Facebook or Zoom-style live lounge performance. Everyone is desperate to return to whatever normal is going to be.
During the two breaks between lockdowns, I was lucky to play at a restricted outdoor fundraising event for the NHS in a large and very socially distanced field. I also played as part of the Boatmen duo on the steps of a local hotel.
For many it has been a really hard time, especially for full-time musicians who rely on paid gigs to survive. With that in mind, many of us just cannot wait to get back out there, either at festivals, at open mics, or just sitting on a beach or in a park somewhere strumming along with like-minded musos. As penned in previous articles, the best part of making music is the bouncing off other players or jamming to a well-loved cover.
With the current relaxation on venues allowing outdoor service, there is likely to be a slow return to outdoor performances. These will, however, be weather dependant and subject to limited numbers of acts and audience capacity.
A cautious approach
Even with the planned return to normality after 21 June, it’s likely that a cautious approach will be on the cards for some time. With this in mind, a gig survival strategy will be prudent for most performers and venues.
From 17 May, some indoor, limited-number performances may resume. I suspect these will be based on the rule of six, or two households per party.
It is advisable that acts take their own microphones and instruments as a precaution. I also suspect we’ll need masks until at least the June date. I for one will be taking a pack of disinfectant wet wipes as a definite addition to the gig bag.
Quite a few of the regular events on the acoustic and open mic calendar will depend on whether venues reopen at all. They might also rely on the venue’s ability, if required, to segregate the performers from the audience. Event organisers will have to check with past regular venues to see if the former slots can resume. I will try to update the listings as I am advised by the venues and hosts.
From a personal perspective, throwing my guitar over my shoulder and heading ‘Out Out’ to a pub garden, assuming there is no icy blast, will be the first activity on my agenda.
When it is safe to resume, local event listings can be found at www.outa-stock.co.uk/OM.htm