One cultural casualty of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is the loss of live entertainment, specifically the silencing of live music in the Houma-Thibodaux area. Yet despite limited crowd sizes and venue restrictions, some have been able to host live acts again, as reported by Houma Today.
Since the pandemic struck in early 2020, many musicians and those that depend on regular occasions of live entertainment have had to endure long stretches off-stage and get reactive with how to supplement or replace the subsequently decreased income.
One such pivot-er is Casie Thibodeaux who makes up half of the popular husband-and-wife acoustic duo Casie and Jonny. The lively, loving pair has found success in their niche performances on Facebook Live where they use the online payment tool Venmo to allow viewers to pay whatever they want when viewing the show.
Thibodeaux said of the virtual concert series, “we tried it out one afternoon in the backyard. We live-streamed a four-hour show, and people tipped us, and we thought, OK, we can still make money. We picked up people from Canada, from Texas, from Arkansas, people who didn’t know us but were looking for live music streams.”
While Casie and Jonny are just starting to perform live again, they have continued their online performances on Wednesdays and Saturdays, weekly. Thibodeaux commented on the hesitation in getting back to performing live by saying, “I didn’t get back out into the public myself, since August. Slowly but surely, some of the smaller restaurants found ways to have patios, so we could play to people on the patio.”
That hesitation in the name of safety isn’t at all misplaced, as bars and restaurants are concerned about the possibility of virus transmission occurring at live music shows, even with the reduced patron capacities due to COVID-19. Such restrictions make it difficult for restaurants to host live entertainment, as bars and restaurants are restricted under the modified Phase 2 order of Gov. John Bel Edwards.
It’s all taken on a parish-by-parish basis with the indoor sales and consumption in bars that are located in parisheswith a positivity rate exceeding 5% being restricted. Though, they are able to open for outdoor consumption at tables only, as long as they are also at 25% capacity. All restaurants are thus limited to 50% of their indoor capacity and are encouraged to move as much dining as they are able outdoors. Recently, bars in neither Terrebonne or Lafourchecould open for indoor business, so the few places hosting live music were restaurants with suitable outdoor spaces.
Frank Ball, the famed Houma blues and rock guitarist, said that he had a bout of COVID-19 himself, which he suspects was passed to him while playing a private Christmas party. He uses this experience to inform his practices and be extra careful when he takes the stage.
He said of the learning opportunity, “I wasn’t too anxious to get back into clubs, given that we’re in a pandemic, but most of the gigs that I’m playing have outdoor stages; you’re not in an enclosed area. I played with a band the other day, and we were separated from the people, but I don’t feel they were social-distancing the way they should be. They just looked like nothing was going on, most of them weren’t wearing masks. I wouldn’t want to be down there mingling with the crowd like that.”
Not all hope is lost during such uncertain times as a new local 3-piece house band, the Supersoakers, have gained a safe foothold in the local music scene, thus giving a semblance of hope in these haze times.
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