Save Our Stages! Mask Up!

Occasional Musings on Live Shows, The Latest Recordings and Audio Gear

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Eric Burton, lead singer for The Black Pumas, performing at XL Live in Harrisburg. Photo: Andrew Lightman

Many, myself included, have welcomed the return of live music. Beginning with a jaunt up to Frederick to see Greensky Bluegrass at the fairgrounds, my life has again become a blur of wonderful performances.

In recent months, I have attended concerts in four different states: The District, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. In the District and Maryland, led by IMP, owners of The 9:30 Club and The Anthem, venues have instituted mask and vaccine mandates. However, outside those cities the situation is more mixed.

Attending a performance by Old Crow Medicine Show closer to home at Maryland Hall in Annapolis in September, I was shocked not be asked to produce a vaccine card prior to entry. The person to my left pulled his mask down below his nose. The people sitting to the right of my partner had their masks pulled down while they chatted away. A man three seats in front of us had no mask on the entire performance. The venue’s volunteer ushers did nothing to enforce proper masking, nor was there an announcement to set a standard for COVID safety.

This week I intended a Black Pumas performance at XL Live in Harrisburg. The venue to my delight required vaccination. Walking inside, however, it was as if the pandemic was “fake news.” I one of only a dozen people masking. What was particularly striking was the number of baby boomers and other gray haired rock fans walking around with bare faces. I will not be returning.

The pandemic poses major challenges for music venues. To begin with, they must keep their employees, who are exposed to the germs of hordes of fans, safe. That means mandating both vaccinations and masks for employees, patrons and performers.

Venues also have a responsibility to minimize the transmission of infection to their audiences and artists. Unlike audience members, however, performers do not have the option of masking, by far the most effective protection against COVID. Mask and vaccinations mandates are the keys to keeping everyone safe.

The largest responsibility, however, lies with us, live music lovers. If we mask up and are careful when drinking, we will ensure the safety of artists and venue staffers. Without these wonderful people, there is no live music.

So, if you love live music, musicians and want to keep our stages open, mask up! It’s that simple.

Andrew Lightman is the Managing Editor of Capital Community News. This periodic column contain his musings on his latest musical discoveries, intricacies of his audio addiction and DC’s live music scene.