The past week and a half has seen the usual world of entertainment and social gatherings get turned upside down. The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has been spreading all over the world since the beginning of the year and March has seen it finally make its mark in the United States. Numerous regulations have rapidly been put in place all over the country, and locally, all venues in Providence have had their entertainment licenses revoked for two weeks since March 12.
Gov. Gina Raimondo ordered on March 16 that all bars, restaurants and coffee shops in the state be shut down until March 30. The decision will be revisited in two weeks, but for the time being it has made various venues in South County shut their doors.
Pump House Music Works in Wakefield has postponed all of their shows for the rest of the month. On the same day Raimondo made her announcement, The Knickerbocker Music Center announced that they would be canceling all of their events in both the main room and the tap room until further notice.
On March 13, The Ryan Center on the campus of the University of Rhode Island in Kingston canceled and postponed all events with an audience of 100 or more until April 3. The Ocean Mist in Matunuck has postponed their shows, while also closing up their bar and dining area, though they are still open for take out and delivery. Over in East Greenwich, the Greenwich Odeum also has their shows canceled for the next few weeks.
“During this uncertain time, we want to thank our patrons for their support and patience as we continue to monitor the Coronavirus pandemic and the implications this crisis has on our community and business,” the folks at the Odeum wrote on their website at greenwichodeum.com. “We are actively reviewing all recommendations and mandates from the Center for Disease Control and the Rhode Island Department of Health in regards to large events. The most recent guidelines from the RIDoH are to avoid events of over 250 people until at least March 25; the CDC just released the recommendation to avoid all events over 50 people through May 10. As of March 14, we have postponed all of our events that are scheduled through March 25, and we are developing an online alternative for our youth theater class. Over the following days we will be working with all of our artists and event organizers to access the best plan for every show we have on our calendar through mid-May.
“We expect there will be several additional changes to our calendar,” they added. “Please know that we will update you as frequently and quickly as possible about changes as they come. We ask for your patience, we understand that you may want to reach out to ask about specific shows. Please understand that we might not be able to answer you directly due to the influx of inquiries, so please check our website frequently for updates.”
Anyone who bought tickets to shows at the Odeum will be notified about the status of the calendar by email. People can still call the box office or contact them by email and all of the information is listed on their website.
While the venues are preparing to be out of business for a certain amount of time, a ton of full-time musicians are trying to figure out how to pay the bills. One of those people is Brendon Bjorness-Murano of Westerly, who is the main sound engineer at Pump House Music Works, a wedding DJ and the bassist and co-vocalist for the Providence jam band Jabbawaukee.
“All shows I’m running sound for the next month are canceled,” He mentions about his current situation. “The entire spring portion of Jabbawaukee’s freshly booked tour is canceled and I already have had at least three weddings in the next month canceled as well. The weddings are actually where legality of the situation and availability for rebookings is becoming a thing. Presently I’m splitting my time between building my recording studio in my basement, recording bass tracks on Jabbawaukee’s new album and just spending time with my wife and two children. I’ve got to stay busy and creatively focused or else my anxiety about the country’s current economic and health situation kicks in.”
“I’m presently on a 14-day quarantine because a child in my son’s school has coronavirus,” He adds. “We’re living off of savings, but that’s only going to last a short while. These are scary times we live in.”
If you’re reading this and you live in South County or you don’t, it doesn’t really matter at this point. You and everyone else has been affected by COVID-19 and it’s the best time to help out your fellow neighbor. It’s also a good time to support a bar, restaurant or venue you enjoy by purchasing gift certificates to use when everything returns to normalcy. The same thing goes for buying a musician’s album or an artist’s painting. Like Brendon said, these are scary times but doing what you can to help someone who’s vulnerable can ease some of those feelings.