The year the music died – Long Island Business News


On Labor Day Weekend, Beau Carino ought to have been working.

As an alternative, the Greenlawn bar proprietor was consuming rooster and ribs at a pal’s home, excited about the way to hold his shuttered enterprise from closing completely.

Carino owns Beau’s Bar, a preferred watering gap with a small stage that hosts a number of the space’s favourite bands, attracting their loyal followers a number of nights per week.

However as of late, Beau’s is closed, one in every of dozens of reside music venues on Lengthy Island that the pandemic and the state’s quixotic rules have muted and left darkish.

“It’s simply not proper,” Carino says. “The entire reside music factor is getting crushed. I perceive that individuals must be protected, however each time you flip round they’re making totally different guidelines. It’s making it unattainable to run a enterprise.”

Carino, who first opened Beau’s in 2006 after managing a Huntington bar known as The Colony for a few years, has misplaced a minimum of 90 % of his income for the reason that third week in March, when the state’s coronavirus lockdown started. The 1,500-square-foot Beau’s has a most capability of simply 65 folks and no kitchen, so although it serves snacks, it’s not thought of a restaurant and may’t function below the extra beneficiant pointers for eateries.

In July, he tried working outdoors, providing Cup O’ Noodles as meals within the parking zone behind the bar which held about 100 patrons. However Carino was pressured to shut once more after simply two weeks, when the State Liquor Authority issued new restrictive pointers.

Whereas the state’s pandemic rules have been eased in phases permitting many companies to renew operations, these ruled by the SLA have been severely handcuffed or outright stymied from coming again.

Patrons at bars and golf equipment that serve alcohol are barred from dancing and may’t even stand whereas consuming or ingesting. Like eating places, inside capability is lowered by 50 %, however one of the crippling restrictions retains reside music from being marketed and bans venues from promoting tickets. The SLA pointers additional state that “music needs to be incidental to the eating expertise and never the draw itself.”

KEVIN SHEEHAN: ‘We’re treading water, however there’s extra debt on the finish of this.’ / Picture by Judy Walker

For Kevin Sheehan, who owns or has pursuits in 5 reside music venues on Lengthy Island, the SLA guidelines have been particularly onerous. Sheehan owns KJ Farrells in Bellmore, The Warehouse in Amityville, Prohibition in Massapequa Park, The Native Tavern in Levittown and he’s a accomplice in East on Principal in Mattituck, most of which stay open on a restricted foundation.

Sheehan says he has misplaced a minimum of 75 % of his income for the reason that third week in March.

The veteran membership proprietor, who started his profession within the 1990s with Sheehan’s Bar & Grill in Flushing, has owned greater than a dozen bars and golf equipment since, most of which featured reside music or a DJ.

“Dwell music has at all times been our factor,” Sheehan advised LIBN. “I’ve at all times had reside music to attract them in. It’s my device to get folks within the door.”

Sheehan stated he has been in fixed negotiations along with his landlords and so they’ve agreed to defer half his month-to-month rents for now.

“We are actually simply holding on,” Sheehan stated. “We’re treading water, however there’s extra debt on the finish of this. We’ll nonetheless owe hundreds of {dollars} in lease.”

The membership proprietor has additionally needed to rent further employees to maintain imposing the COVID guidelines.

“We’re continuously poking folks to put on their masks,” Sheehan stated. “It’s like a kindergarten class.”

DAN ROTH and RAY CAPONE: Dwell music has been silenced at their Sea Cliff gastro-pub. / Picture by Judy Walker

Dan Roth, co-owner of Nonetheless Companions in Sea Cliff with Ray Capone, says his music-centric gastro-pub has misplaced a minimum of 70 % of its income during the last six months.

Nonetheless Companions was planning to carry a fundraiser to assist hold its doorways open, when the Village of Sea Cliff revoked its cabaret license and Roth needed to host it at his dwelling. Although its small stage is darkish, Nonetheless Companions can have 43 patrons inside and about 30 folks outdoors on the road in entrance of the 1,800-square-foot pub.

“I’m very nervous in regards to the fall, as a result of outside seating isn’t as viable as soon as it will get colder,” Roth stated. “I additionally don’t know if the village will hold the road closed.”

Roth doesn’t assume issues might be again to regular till a minimum of subsequent 12 months, however within the meantime, he’d like to have the ability to serve up some reside music together with the cheeseburgers and pan-seared salmon.

“If bars hold strict guidelines in place, they gained’t be the petri dish all people thinks they’re,” he stated.

Roth, who can be a drummer, was scheduled to play with a band known as The Allmost Brothers on the Nice South Bay Music Pageant this summer season, however that gig, together with a whole lot of others, was cancelled.

The pageant, which is normally held for 4 days in July and attracts 20,000 folks to the Shorefront Park in Patchogue, was one other main music casualty of the pandemic.

JIM FAITH: Promoter of the Nice South Bay Music Pageant, which needed to be cancelled this summer season, hopes to placed on the identical present subsequent 12 months. / Picture by Judy Walker

Pageant promoter Jim Religion stated the occasion was initially going to be moved to September, however after talks with Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri two months in the past, all the factor was scrapped.

“It will by no means be protected sufficient,” Religion stated.

The financial fallout from the pageant’s cancellation is immense. Moreover the substantial misplaced income from ticket gross sales, the organizers normally rent greater than 200 folks through the week of the pageant, which might have additionally featured 17 meals distributors and about 50 arts-and-crafts distributors. There are additionally the roadies, stage fingers, truck drivers and musicians, none of whom obtained paid.

Moreover the cancellation of the Patchogue pageant, Religion, a veteran music promoter who owns J Religion Presents, additionally misplaced about 300 reside music gigs that he had booked for musicians round Lengthy Island during the last six months.

Religion, whose spouse is a nurse with Northwell Well being, doesn’t begrudge Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to maintain the virus at bay and says “his coronary heart is in the suitable place,” however argues for a extra empathetic stance on the reside music trade.

“The governor’s mandate is initially created to make sure that the virus doesn’t get away from us once more,” Religion stated. “That stated, a blanket mandate similar to ‘in the event you don’t serve meals you’ll be able to’t open,’ is overkill and pointless. It’s devastating to a membership proprietor that has a number of venues that simply presents music and drink, whereas subsequent door there’s a restaurant with 50 folks sitting at tables of 4 to 6. The identical with not with the ability to promote a solo artist, who’s attempting desperately to feed his household by taking part in at a restaurant.”

Religion provides that the “collateral injury” could possibly be prevented by concentrating on the quantity of individuals within the membership, acceptable pointers and inspectors overseeing.

“Most house owners will do the suitable factor and be protected, some won’t, and they need to be closed down,” Religion stated. “It’s about simply getting by means of this, making it by means of to the opposite aspect, regardless of how crippled. That’s why the Save Our Phases invoice is so necessary.”

The Save Our Phases Act is a bi-partisan invoice that’s been launched within the Senate and Home that may set up a $10 billion grant program for reside venue operators, promoters, producers and expertise representatives. It will additionally direct the Small Enterprise Administration to make grants accessible to eligible recipients equal to both 45 % of 2019 gross income or $12 million.

The grants would supply a minimum of six months of monetary help to maintain venues afloat, pay staff and protect a essential financial sector for communities throughout the nation, in keeping with the Nationwide Unbiased Venue Affiliation, which maintains that if the shutdown lasts six months or longer and there’s no significant federal help, 90 % of its members can be pressured to fold eternally.

Moreover imperiling house owners of golf equipment, bars and bigger reside music venues, the pandemic and the state’s security pointers have been devastating for space performers, whose earnings has been severely diminished or disappeared utterly.

Nancy Atlas, Jimmy Buffett and Lukas Nelson (Willie’s son) performing on the Surf Lodge in Montauk in Sept. 2019. / Picture by Ken Grille

Pre-COVID, you might need discovered Nancy Atlas performing together with her band The Nancy Atlas Venture at My Father’s Place in Roslyn, Metropolis Vineyard in Manhattan or The Surf Lodge in Montauk. However for the reason that center of March, Atlas has misplaced about 75 gigs.

A 27-year veteran of the Lengthy Island music scene, Atlas, who additionally has three youngsters, says she has “performed sufficient dive bars for about 5 lifetimes,” however the pandemic has nonetheless value her a major chunk of her annual earnings.

“The folks I see hurting probably the most are the skilled lifetime musicians,” Atlas stated.

Earlier this summer season, the Montauk-based Atlas carried out twice at Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, together with her on stage inside and her efficiency heard by means of audio system and seen on transportable video screens to about 50 patrons sitting outdoors the membership.

“It obtained shut down, as a result of ticketed exhibits aren’t allowed,” she stated.

Atlas was additionally essential of promoters of a Chainsmokers live performance in Southampton on the finish of July that violated the state’s social distancing necessities and drew main shade from Cuomo and lots of others.

“That simply ruins issues for the remainder of us who play by the foundations,” she stated.

Trying forward, Atlas says she plans for the worst, however prays for the most effective.

“I don’t know what’s in retailer for reside performances, however we do want artists and musicians and people communities to come back collectively and help one another and encourage one another,” Atlas stated. “The vast majority of musicians I do know are numb. They are saying it’s a good time to put in writing, and that’s fantastic, in the event you will pay your payments.”

Thought to be one of many hardest working musicians within the space, drummer Frank Bellucci has performed a mean of 300 gigs a 12 months since he was simply 18. Now at 61, Bellucci is performing behind the equipment just some occasions per week, because the virus and state guidelines have slowed his roll.

“There are many individuals who miss taking part in, however when it’s your solely supply of earnings it’s totally different,” Bellucci stated. “I by no means even had a paper route. I began taking part in events once I was 13. That is the one factor I’ve completed.”

Whereas the final half of March and all of April have been wipeouts, Bellucci, who dietary supplements his performing earnings by giving drum classes, has nonetheless managed to play practically 60 gigs within the final 4 months. Regardless of that, the Dix Hills resident estimates he has misplaced about 60 % of his earnings up to now this 12 months.

Although his in style 10-piece Earth Wind and Fireplace cowl band known as Shining Star has been largely sidelined, performing simply twice final month, Bellucci continues to play largely outdoors at eating places with jazz and rock duos and trios. These days, you will discover Bellucci on the Boatyard at Tobay Seaside, Treme in Islip, Sophia Italian Bistro in Amityville and Danfords in Port Jefferson.

“I’ve been on the market,” he says.

The state’s restrictions on bigger gatherings have damage musicians who rely on weddings and social occasions for his or her earnings.

“It’s introduced the trade to a halt,” says Marc Stevens, founder and managing accomplice of Hank Lane Music and Productions. “Being on the tail finish of the hospitality trade, we’re becoming a member of within the struggling.”

Hank Lane, which has places of work in Hicksville, Manhattan and New Jersey, has a secure of about 300 musicians and normally has its bands booked for a minimum of 1,000 occasions a 12 months. However the leisure agency has had only a handful within the final a number of months.

Stevens, who estimates his firm has misplaced 85 % of its income for the reason that center of March, wish to see extra equitable rules from the state.

“A few of the guidelines don’t even make sense,” Stevens stated. “In the event that they’re permitting 50 % capability in eating places and so they name it a dinner it’s OK. But when it’s a marriage with the identical quantity of individuals, it’s not OK.”

With many catering services nonetheless shut down, Stevens says there’s been numerous rescheduling, particularly with weddings, as some {couples} have pushed again their occasion date a number of occasions.

“It’s very worrying for us and our purchasers,” he stated. “It’s an entire juggling act.”

The excellent news, Stevens says, is that there’s been an uptick in bookings for small affairs with lower than 50 folks and a few have been rescheduling occasions for the spring and summer season subsequent 12 months and into 2022.

This 12 months, nonetheless, a lot of the firm’s musicians are struggling to outlive.

“For lots of them, it’s their solely supply of earnings,” Stevens says. “It’s been devastating. They’ll’t pivot. That is all they know.”

In the meantime, many performers have taken their skills to social media, taking part in concert events from their houses through Fb Dwell, utilizing apps like Venmo and PayPal to solicit donations with digital tip jars. Some have carried out at drive-in concert events organized largely by municipalities at parks and seashores. Even the Tilles Middle in Brookville has held drive-in music exhibits.

There have additionally been a number of GoFundMe campaigns and fundraisers at personal houses to help membership house owners and different reside music venues impacted by the pandemic.

On Saturday, Sept. 19, a Save the Music rally is scheduled at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. The occasion’s Fb web page says it’s “aimed straight on the tyrannical and unwarranted rules that unfairly assault the reside music and leisure enterprise. These rules, together with the latest, ‘no ticketed or marketed occasions’ are simply one other strategy to chokehold the already dying New York companies and reside leisure trade.”

The virus and the state’s restrictions have already taken fairly a toll on reside music venues right here, as a number of have closed for good, together with Cinque Terre and Barmani’s in Huntington and Revolution in Amityville.

Atlas predicts extra locations will shut.

“You’re going to see them dropping like flies within the subsequent month or so,” she stated.

The ache from limiting reside music exhibits is shared all through the native financial system. A current research performed by the Metropolis of Chicago discovered that for each $1 spent on a ticket to a reside efficiency, $12 is generated in financial exercise.

Religion says numerous the injury may have been prevented if venue house owners and their patrons weren’t so fast to flaunt rules. He added that everybody ought to nonetheless be mandated to put on masks, social distance and sanitize their fingers frequently.

“From March through April we acted responsibly, and we beat this factor down,” Religion stated. “However that quickly ended. The deniers have been out in pressure, golf equipment weren’t listening, events have been in every single place. It’s why it’s nonetheless right here. My feeling is that what’s occurred up to now has been crippling sufficient for my entire trade, but when this extends to 2021, watch what occurs then.”


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