Yearning for some more live music

Published 9:04 am Thursday, May 28, 2020

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So we’re in another phase of reopening the economy from the coronavirus. More businesses are open. More could open, but aren’t. We only hope it’s because the owners are waiting for a full reopening before they deem it profitable enough to welcome customers, and not because they’ve lost too much and are calling it quits.

Now, let the politics begin. Or should I say, let the politics go full steam ahead – which they will. Reopening the economy is already becoming a Republican vs. Democrat thing.

Just remember, there are plenty of Republicans out there who believe in science and the unknown of a virus to think we’re rushing into this, that reopening now will only cause more people to get sick and die.

Also remember, there are plenty of Democrats out there who from the start didn’t like the government telling them what they could or couldn’t do (Sounds a lot like Republicans, doesn’t it?). Some believe in herd mentality, some believe that the whole thing is blown out of proportion, that the restrictions may be worse than the unknown outcome, that it’s worth the risk to reopen and see what happens.

Why masks and social distancing and hand washing and not touching our faces? That seems to be about all we know to do. This virus is a tricky one, and one we know little about. We know how a virus spreads, and those things help prevent the spread. It’s that simple.

Will all of the precautions make a difference? It will be hard to tell. Who knows what the results would have been if nothing was done, or if less was done. We’ll never know.


I’m wondering how long many places will be able to survive without customers. I know the big movie theaters will make it. Profits will be down, they will experience losses, but they’ll make it.

Local gyms may not. Local music venues may not.

Both operate on small profit margins. Close them down for months, and the owners may not be able to re-open.

I’m not  a gym guy myself, but they should be allowed to open with proper sanitary procedures and numbers of patrons allowed inside. Working out is not only good for the physical body, but it helps relieve stress and other mind disorders. Sure, you can work out at home, but some people need that extra incentive of having others see or know what you’re doing. Sounds silly, but it’s real.

Those music venues are another story.

Even Four Oaks Event Center in Mocksville has been closed – and is still closed per the governor’s orders. There’s something about live music – experienced with others – that make us feel better. Four Oaks put more than its share of local talent on the stage for  folks to enjoy. We hope they can open again soon, and rock Mocksville like it deserves to be rocked.

It reminds me of a Guy Clark/Verlon Thompson song about 40-something venues where they played their music.

I had been to several, but the Down Home Pickin’ Parlor (Now just the Down Home) in Johnson City, Tenn. has to be right up there among my favorites of all time, along with the Cook Shack in Union Grove (One of the best concerts I’ve ever seen was Verlon Thompson at that venue.). The Down Home still operates, but with limited music nights. The Cook Shack no longer hosts concerts.

We missed MerleFest, and chances are those huge pavilions that host concerts will not do so this summer unless at a much lower capacity, which is fine with me. Although the first concert stage I ever saw live must have been 100 yards away at the August Jam at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1974, I prefer to sit closer to the band these days. I like to see their faces, watch their hands, feel their emotions.

It’s the smaller venues like Four Oaks and Muddy Creek and the Ramkat that we’ll miss the most. The best concerts I’ve ever seen were at smaller venues, and each was packed with patrons. Virtual concerts may be the thing for the summer of 2020, but it just isn’t the same. Seeing a live performance – with others who enjoy the same thing – is something that cannot be replaced.

– Mike Barnhardt