Musicians are Touring, Despite the COVID Risks

Posted on: August 26th, 2021 at 5:07 am by

Ashley McBryde at Irving Plaza, Photo: Charley Crespo

What follows is a dispatch from the downtown music scene with Everynight Charley Crespo, prolific Editor of The Manhattan Beat. Here is the latest entry.

The numbers of touring musicians continues to increase, even while numerous larger-profile artists announced this month that they were cancelling at least some parts of their tours due to COVID-related concerns. Granted, the current tours generally are shorter and more regional than national, and they last about three weeks instead of six months, but hundreds of professional musicians are taking chances and hitting the road. After 16 months of either remaining closed or booking only local musicians, many venue operators are presenting talent that is traveling from other parts of the state or the country.

Many, including the Trey Anastasio Band and Jason Isbell, are playing exclusively to vaccinated audiences everywhere they travel. When they arrive in New York City, touring musicians will find that all indoor venues here require proof of vaccination for entry, and many outdoor venues are demanding the same. Even so, touring means weeks of hotels, restaurants, public bathrooms and other variables where the musicians risk exposure to the virus.

Widespread Panic is the latest group to postpone upcoming concerts. The band announced today that its five-night engagement at the Beacon Theatre, which was to happen on September 16-20, will be postponed to January 2022. The band made the announcement on its website.

“Since returning to live performance, the Band, Crew and Management have gone to great lengths and expense to ensure the safety of every soul in the venue,” reads Widespread Panic’s web page. “We are taking this pause to re-enforce our already stringent protocols. Bottom line – the COVID virus is relentless, and it loves an audience.”

The Districts at Brooklyn Steel, Photo: Charley Crespo

Earlier this week, Pixies cancelled an 11-date tour that was to include the September 10 reopening of the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. Tony Bennett, Garth Brooks, BTS, Michael Bublé, Florida Georgia Line, Korn, Lettuce, Limp Bizkit, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Stevie Nicks, Nine Inch Nails, Alan Parsons and Neil Young are among the larger attractions that in August announced that at least some of their tour dates would be cancelled or postponed because of COVID-related concerns. Phoebe Bridgers just adjusted her tour so that all her previously announced indoor dates were moved to outdoor venues. Meanwhile, other bands are announcing new concert tours, including the Doobie Brothers, who just announced a 50th anniversary tour.

The number of touring acts coming to the New York area appears to be better now than it has been since the start of the coronavirus pandemic aborted the touring talent industry in March 2020. This week alone saw concerts by the Eagles, John Legend, the War and Treaty, and Ann Wilson.

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