COVID-19

Standing Wave performs during Bananastock at Spirit in 2018.  It would be sad to lose venues like Spirit permanently as a result of the pandemic.  Photo by Tony.


Save Our Stages
          Save Our Stages is a movement started by the recently-formed National Independent Venue Association to encourage our elected representatives to support The RESTART Act and/or the Save Our Stages Act, either of which would provide much-needed financial support to independent music venues across the country that have lost revenue due to the pandemic.  Doing your small part takes a minute and all you have to do is go to www.saveourstages.com, enter your name, land address, email address, and phone number, and send the message to your representatives urging them to support the Act.  The message is pre-populated for you and there is space for any comments that you wish to add.  It won't cost you a penny - and don't be shy about sharing any of the requested personal information, either; I doubt that any of the representatives are going to appear at your door or call you on the phone.  They just need to know that you truly are one of their constituents so that your message is not disregarded.

          As one who maintains a schedule of shows for the home page, I'm aware of the staggering number that have been postponed (some more than once) and canceled since March.  While other countries have seen cases of COVID-19 decline and even disappear, we continue to see cases on the rise in the USA, where the White House's reaction to the pandemic was slow and ineffective and we're divided to the point where even something as simple as wearing a face mask has turned into a culture war issue, resulting in too many impatient people too quick to abandon "social distancing" (a term I hate, by the way, simply because I hate euphemisms; take away the word "social" and it means the same thing).  Meanwhile, the independent music venues have received little or no help from the well-intentioned yet poorly executed Paycheck Protection Program, where greedy lenders violated the first-come, first-served principle of the program and instead prioritized the biggest loans that yielded the biggest commissions.  But the venues still have bills to pay, and with cases projected to continue to rise for the foreseeable future, I'd be surprised if I saw a live show at all in 2020.

          Resisting my generation's impulse to flee to the suburbs, I've lived in the city my entire life, preferring to be a short drive away from our many independent venues, among other reasons.  I feel that a city dies without a music scene and a pop culture.  I'm old now and don't make it to as many shows as I used to or that I'd like to, but I make it to a lot more than most guys my age, and would hate to see the scene die.  Besides our many local bands, the list of visiting bands I've seen in independent venues (some more than once) just since 2013, for example, is impressive and is presented to illustrate how fortunate we've been in PIttsburgh:
Black Flag * Paul Collins Beat * Chris Difford & Glen Tilbrook (aka Acoustic Squeeze) * Dressy Bessy * The English Beat * Flag * The Forty Nineteens * HR & the Human Rights Band * Meat Puppets * Off! * Psychedelic Furs * Shonen Knife * Television * Mike Watt * Wire
Wire at Mr. Smalls in 2015. Photo by Dom.

          But enough about me.  This article in Next Pittsburgh  puts it all into perspective more eloquently than I ever could, particularly the quotes attributed to Leigh Yock of Spirit, and is well worth reading.  (I found her comments about Pittsburgh turning into the suburbs particularly terrifying.)  So read it, go forth and be inspired, and go to www.saveourstages.com.
 
         On the day I posted this, I went to www.saveourstages.com and sent the message to our representatives.  Instantly I received a thoughtful reply from Rep. Doyle and, a few days later, from Sen. Casey.  As it turns out, Doyle is a cosponsor of both bills in the House and Casey is a cosponsor of The RESTART Act in the Senate.  I have yet to hear from Sen. Toomey, which doesn't exactly surprise me, as the GOP has never been especially friendly to the arts, although in fairness the bills do have several Republican cosponsors in both the House and the Senate.  Hopefully enough of our representatives understand how important this is to many of us.  After all, apart from Beto O'Rourke, it's hard to imagine any politician hanging out at a small independent venue listening to a band.  Probably none of them knows the difference between Dressy Bessy and Bessie Smith and they'd all tell you that Shonen Knife is a kitchen tool sold on late-night cable TV commercials.

          As I write this, both bills are stalled and I've received several emails from venues and promoters stating that we're reaching a critical point where it's necessary for folks to communicate their support if they haven't done so already.  You can follow the progress of both bills here.

The Musicians
          Of course, without live venues, musicians lose an important source of income as well.  Fortunately, they can still make and sell their recordings.  If you can't buy directly from the artists, please consider buying on Bandcamp, which gives the artists a bigger share of revenue from sales than any other website where music is sold.  On each monthly Bandcamp Friday, Bandcamp waives its share of the profits on any sales, leaving 100% of the revenue for the artists.

          Here is a list of artists that I've supported during the pandemic by purchasing their music on Bandcamp, all of it on a Bandcamp Friday with just a few exceptions:
Brittany Anjou * The Apples in Stereo * Albert Ayler * Joe Bendik * Bush Tetras * Paul Collins Beat * The Coolies * The Cynics * Dressy Bessy * Essential Machine * The Full Counts * Gaudi * Brittany Larson Suck My Face * The Little Wretches * Los Vampiros Amarillos * Murder for Girls * Reid Paley * Steve Sciulli * The Shadow Event * The Joe Strummer Foundation * Take Me With You * Holly Beth Vincent * X

          Here's just a small sample of some other local and world-renowned artists with music for sale there:
Adventures * The Affordable Floors * A.T.S. * Blondie * Dennis Bovell * Anthony Braxton * David Byrne * Canary * Carsickness * Cash Registers * Chantillion * The Cheats * Ornette Coleman * Code Orange * Nikki Corvette * Elvis Costello * Creature People * Crumbs of Happiness * Cyrus Gold * The Damaged Pies * The Damned * The Dancing Cigarettes * The dB's * The Deep Roots * Dos * Roky Erickson * The Evens * Facewreck * Fitted * The Forty Nineteens * Fugazi * The Garden * Go Go Gidget * The Gotobeds * Dave Holland * Inconsolable Wretch * Insect Surfers * Zack Keim *  Jim Kweskin * Richard Lloyd * Nick Lowe * Lisa Miles *  Minor Threat * Mission of Burma * Bob Mould * David Murray * Nox Boys * Yoko Ono * Path to Misery * Jimmer Podrasky * Iggy Pop * Popular Creeps * The Psychedelic Furs * Resistance Wire * Jonathan Richman * Sam Rivers *  Stephen Sciulli * Sebadoh * Shonen Knife * The Slits * Sonic Youth * The Spectres * Chris Stamey * Steel Pulse * Stick Against Stone * Tom Tom Club * T.S.O.L. * James Blood Ulmer * The Urinals * Tom Waits * Paul Weller * Wreckless Eric

          It's the best site on the internet.  Next to this one, of course. 

The Workers
         I came across this Go FundMe page for the benefit of laid-off workers at Mr. Smalls.  They provide incentives for certain large donations.
 
         Here is one for the benefit of employees at the Rex Theater, which announced that it was closing permanently on September 22.     

         If I find similar pages for workers at other venues, I'll post those, too.  You can also let me know of any that should be added.

         Feel free to share this page.  We'll keep it here as long as it's necessary.

Wash Your Hands to the Beat!
         http://englishbeat.net/wash-your-hands-to-the-beat/
         https://www.reverbnation.com/theenglishbeat/song/1701162-mirror-in-the-bathroom?source=artistMusic
Joe
Pittsburgh, PA
July 11-12, 2020
Updated September 22, 2020

Links last checked 9/12/20