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Performers ready for live stages to open up again in 2021

Performers are looking forward to the spotlight again in 2021 (Photo:John Palminteri)
Street musicians
Zac Gill
Rod Lathim
Jackson Gilles
Opera singer

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Hearing they might be silenced for months,  musicians on the Central Coast have not given up during the pandemic. Many are staying active , hoping to be in the spotlight again in 2021.

"The whole pandemic has been fairly devastating to so many people in so many ways.  Especially the arts," said Rod Lathim with the Marjorie Luke Theatre.

Many artists have developed virtual shows,  some are pay per view,  and some are for free.    

Lathim is watching the economics of the industry from coast to coast.
"Live venues are dying and it is very sad and venues are closing all over the place.  This (streaming shows) is keeping us alive," he said.

Creative shows like Ventura's drive-in theater style "Concerts in your Car," have been a safe pivot to have a live show without crossing the Covid lines.

Pop up shows  at the Santa Barbara Rose Garden in the summer gave  stage performer David Segall the relief he needed, as well as the public. Segall said, "it allows everyone to breath  it lets  the music breath.  It allows people to dance." The pop-up shows were not without concerns from health officials.

"While I do look forward to performing again in nightclubs and bars there is something really magical about performing outdoors and allowing people to gathering  a way you can't always do in a crammed space," said Seagall.

Many street musicians have also been the bands you see at nightclubs, weddings and outside festivals.

With all the  cancellations, the street shows, even against the public health order  have hit the right note with the musicians and the public especially when they can dine out.

It's  also brought in a limited  income..

"It's a cultural thing,  if you are a musician, it is baked into you " said Musician and Realtor Steve Epstein.

Often seen downtown performing alone or with a band, Jason Frost said, "it's really a Godsend I appreciate it so much and people have been very generous on so many levels. It's just awesome. I've been really blow away by people's generosity. "

What's often considered the biggest showcase stage in the area, the Santa Barbara Bowl, will remain quiet well into 2021.

"Unlike sports venues which can have a smaller crowds, spaced out,  the operators of the Santa Barbara Bowl say they can't do it with half the house, for example 2500 people.  It just doesn't work financially for everyone involved.

Moss JacobsVice President of Nederlander Concerts, Moss Jacobs has been booking bands at the bowl for years.

"It looks now like it's going to be  late summer at best. September and October could become the best two months ever at the bowl the way the bands are holding dates now," Jacobs.

Because the bowl can hold shows rain or shine, "we could have November shows  which isn't the norm. Why not?"

That's when you may see those side by side concert fans safely packed in again. "I've been getting a lot of text and a lot of calls (saying)  'I'm really missing this I really need this     I've gotta get back to concerts,' " said Jacobs.

    Performers of all styles have been reaching out to their fans on the virtual platforms and what they've all  found is a new, worldwide audience.
" We've had people contact us from as far away as China watching these concerts and all over the U.S.," said Lathim.

After the first few shows, the analytics showed a big interest.

Lathim said, "we have reached over a 110 thousand people since September which is far far exceeds what we would have reached in live audience numbers."      

Hours of rehearsals,  on line videos and stealth private shows may be the lifestyle now,  but these performers are ready for the lights to come on and the venues to fill up again as soon as the coronavirus is controlled.

And so are their fans.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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