Nevada County venues slowly return to live events during pandemic | TheUnion.com
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Nevada County venues slowly return to live events during pandemic

Victoria Penate
Staff Writer

As the landscape of public health recommendations sees rapid changes alongside the developing pandemic, event planning has become an exercise in constant adaptability for local live music venues.

Beth Moore, who co-owns Grass Valley’s Wild Eye Pub with her husband David Kuczora, described the chaotic event planning period following the onset of COVID-19 and related concerns in March.

“Everyone was reeling, worried, and not sure what to make of it,” Moore said last month.

Wild Eye normally has programming scheduled five nights per week, including musical performances, literary readings, and comedy acts. The last stage event held before the shutdown at Wild Eye was an Aretha Franklin tribute on March 14, though shows restarted this month.

Wild Eye began hosting audience-free performances on its Facebook page in early April, but this wasn’t a cure-all for its scheduling uncertainties.

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Many booked artists requested to cancel or postpone performance dates, citing personal health concerns and travel restrictions, among other limiting circumstances. A key issue in planning those performances was the unanimous agreement needed for a group to act on any decision made, because any involved health risk is generally shared.

“I have been really impressed with how artists have respectfully represented their fellow band members,” said Moore. “All but one may say, ‘Let’s go play,’ but if one says they are uncomfortable, they will all negotiate with us for different precautions for their livestream, or just postpone.”

The situation’s since changed, as the state slowly reopens.

Moore said Thursday that she submitted a plan to the county Environmental Health Department three weeks ago, detailing the safety precautions she would take in reopening the establishment for live shows to accompany dine-in service, which the department approved. These have included a decrease in number of tables, use of smaller seating arrangements per party, and an expansion of the stage to facilitate distancing between band members and their audience.

Wild Eye has been hosting live shows since the first week of June, and has performances lined up for this week including rock band Hard Hattie at 6 p.m. Friday, a 6:30 p.m. performance by Shaky Ground on Saturday, and soloist Gary Regina playing at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Updates to scheduled programming at Wild Eye Pub can be found at http://www.wildeyepub.com.

‘COMMUNAL MUSIC THERAPY’

Kate Anderson, owner of Crazy Horse Saloon and Grill, said last month that a timeline for resuming live shows remained uncertain after the venue reopened for food and drink sales on May 15, following a two-month closure.

She recalls most cancellations coming from the artists’ end beginning in mid-March, as health advisories began to discourage large gatherings.

“It’s pretty awful and sad cancelling the shows,” said Anderson, calling this a difficult time for both the business and patrons.

Live music has returned to Crazy Horse, according to its website.

“The last three months have felt more like three years but we have made it through,” the site states. “It’s time to welcome a small audience back to dip our toes in the pool of communal music therapy.

“For now, our live music events have to be socially distanced which means we can only allow 40 people in for the show,” the message continues. “Unfortunately, it also means that we’re technically not permitted to encourage dancing.”

A sold out show is scheduled for tonight, the website states.

Anderson said she’s been in communication with local health officials to ensure Crazy Horse does not proceed prematurely in its replanning efforts.

Updates to the show schedule at Crazy Horse can be found at http://www.crazyhorsenc.com/about/live-music.

A general overview of scheduled arts programming in Nevada County can be found at http://www.nevadacountyarts.org/calendar.

Victoria Penate is a freelance writer for The Union.


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