WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO LIVE MUSIC?!
That I have no idea, is daunting. Especially — in my lifetime? At 72, it’s possible I may have witnessed, reveled in, been spiritually renewed by, my last live performance. Wow. Yikes. Seriously? This pandemic urgency is not going to disappear in a few weeks, and in many months, if then, it will emerge very changed.
How many of our beloved local venues will be able to survive? What happens when their rent comes due? Will Congress really come to the rescue? And for how long? What do the owners and booking agents and other employees do with no income? How will they pay their own rents and other bills? Will they drift into other careers? Leave town? (And this is not even considering the devastating economic and artistic effect on musicians and other performers. Sure, you can write songs in your bedroom, you can record and stream, but you need that live audience experience at some point. And the income.)
SOME OF THE CASUALTIES
Harvelle’s (also in LB), the Trip, the Jacaranda series at First Presbyterian Church, Soundwaves at our Main Library, the monthly Sanctuary concerts at the Church In Ocean Park — all in Santa Monica, the Cinema Bar in Culver City, LAX jazz club Sam First, UCLA Royce Hall, The Soraya in Northridge, Joe’s in Burbank, Teragram Ballroom and The Theatre at the Ace Hotel in DTLA, Largo, El Rey, The Wiltern, Fonda Theatre, Popeye’s jam nights and Alex’s Bar in LB and the Sardine in San Pedro, In Sheep’s Clothing, Echo/Echoplex, Lodge Room, Mr. Musichead Gallery, what about amazing Amoeba and their millions of pieces of music and great free live shows?!, the eight Saban/The Canyon venues, the special pop-up concerts radio 88.5 presents. And all the dedicated music people who fought through the destruction of fire to resurrect the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest and Folk Festival, still optimistically scheduled for May 17, its 59th straight year.
SPOKEN WORD TOO
The Ruskin Group Theatre and Library Girl and LA Cafe Plays at SMO, SM Playhouse, Odyssey Theater, The Actors Gang, Beyond Baroque, Kirk Douglas Theatre — what will happen to them? Ruskin does have some income from the classes they teach, now done on a reduced basis on Zoom. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum owns their idyllic Topanga Canyon property but they employ a lot of actors who are paid professionals.
The Jazz Bakery rents their space at Moss Theater on a by-need basis but there are still expenses and no income there. McCabe’s has the music store business, which can continue on a limited basis online but, when you get the notion to buy a guitar or mandolin, banjo or fiddle, you want to come in and see them, pull them off the wall, hold them and play them. And then, if you’re a beginner, what happens to the expert lessons you used to be able to count on? All group lessons seem to be postponed. Can they do private lessons by Zoom? The concert operation there, which has blessed us with 50+ years of unforgettable acoustic concerts by the most important players in music, is a separate business, now ground to a halt.
Even the LA Philharmonic and LA Opera will have to cover large deficit expenses with no income, but they do have the benefit of benefactors and large grants. Still, enormous staff to pay, or not be able to pay, including all those musicians. Same for the Broad Stage here, and the Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine. And what about POP, Pacific Opera Project? Not so many big corporate donors there.
I WANTED TO PAY TRIBUTE
To all these venues (I probably missed some, sorry!) where I have sent you these past couple of years through the NOTEWORTHY column, for their hard work for usually little pay, and stellar accomplishments, and for the suffering, economic, artistic and psychic, that everyone associated with them are going through right now. It’s quite a list but at the essence it is collectives of people, very talented people who believe in art at the highest levels and their proud part in bringing it to the world. Those people are sitting at home now, and that is not easy. I pray we will all meet again, in an even better rockin’ pickin’ singin’ world, right here in LA.
We are all affected by this plague in so many personal ways. My life has revolved around live music since I was eight. It’s why I moved here from NM, 40 years ago. It is so hard to endure, even for the near future, the prospect of not having that available, especially in the way that Santa Monica and LA has spoiled me.
When I think of all the incredible, memorable shows all those venues have presented, even in just the last year. I’ve always said, and written, that we are so blessed to live in a city second to none in the world for live performance. Will that now be part of our history, but not our future? Only time will tell, but coming back from this is going to be hard and probably very slow.
But Angeleno artists are indomitable and nothing would surprise me. I am sure there are more of them trying to figure out how to remain vital and plan for the future, than those who are curled up in a corner in a fetal position. And even those — probably have a friend taking video for a vlog or future creation. “How I Got Through It — Barely.”
Nicole has not thrown in the towel, no sir. Here’s her latest —
LISTEN TO MUSIC SAFELY IN YOUR HOME NEXT TO A FERN — (is the music label Leaving Records’ COVID-19-compliant adaptation of their regularly scheduled “listen to music outside in the daylight under a tree” concerts. Now everyone can listen from the safety of their homes as artists broadcast performances from their home studios via a Twitch stream. I watched this past Saturday and it was just what the doctor ordered, so to speak) — Every Saturday 1 p.m., www.twitch.tv/leavingrecords (you do not need to be a member to view), free.
Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 2,000 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com