By: Maddie Kerth
NEW ORLEANS, LA-- Local gig workers across the country are battling state mandates to make ends meet. As COVID-19 has caused a stall in our nation's economy, those with 1099 tax forms were left on the back burner as unemployment benefits were frantically distributed. Some of those artists have now chosen to embrace the era of online entertainment by holding virtual concerts to keep their fans engaged and their musical abilities sharp.
"We haven't played since March 14," Bucktown Allstar drummer Steve Alfonso said. "And it doesn't look like we are going to play until at least mid-June." This is a reality that the critically acclaimed cover band will have to face as they sit out what would have been their busiest season of the year.
The loss of live music's impact doesn't stop at the musicians; venues are suffering as well. John Blancher, owner of the Mid City Lanes Rock 'N' Bowl, is concerned with how his business can recover from such a blow. "This is a time when you are wondering where do you go, what do you do next?" he said.
Blancher set aside his financial concerns and took a look at what his community needed from him and his business. "It cost about $5,000 to do it," he admitted. "And it's not like you have an extra $5,000, but this has been our business for over 30 years. I thought that there were bands out there that needed to get in front of the public to remind them who they are and what they can do."
The Bucktown Allstars advertised a "virtual tip jar" where viewers could donate as they enjoyed their set. At the conclusion of the 90-minute live broadcast, the band had raised over $2,000 to be donated to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation.
"Thank y'all! Thanks for being a part of this great celebration," Bucktown Allstars trumpeter Ryan Thibodaux said in a message to the donors. "We miss y'all."
As for what is next for the band, they are expecting to play that mid-June gig, following Louisiana's statewide Phase One guidelines. They are happy to have a little taste of their old routine once again.
Maddie is an Honors graduate of Pace University's B.A. in Communication Studies program. She holds a Double Minor in History and Journalism. She has a keen interest in Broadcast Journalism. Experience includes, editorial internships with InvestmentWires and YourTango, publication and on-air segments for Pace University's NYC newspaper and TV station, as well as an extensive background in acting for the stage.