Musicians Slowly Return To The Stage After Live Music Stopped Due To COVID-19

Jun 1, 2021, 9:31 PM | Updated: 9:54 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Musicians have slowly started making their way back to the stage after live music in clubs and at concerts and festivals stopped more than a year ago because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“In one fell swoop, in one week, my entire year was canceled,” said Kate MacLeod, a fiddler and singer.

Festivals, concerts and a European tour were all gone for MacLeod after the pandemic hit.

A few days ago, she played her first gig on a public stage again — at the Garage on Beck Street, an outdoor venue.

“It felt really good to be out there again, on a stage in front of people, watching people smile,” said MacLeod, who sat in with the band Triggers and Slips.

She said she’s got only about half the work that she would normally have lined up for the summer, though.

“I think ‘optimistic’ is not the word I would use, right?” MacLeod said.

Performer Talia Keys, a type-1 diabetic who recently got vaccinated and has been in quarantine since March 10, 2020, has just starting to book gigs.

“(We’re) following kind of the bigger bands, right,” she said, “and until you really see these bands, getting back on tour and hitting the road, there’s no reason for me to go book something and put people in danger to come see me play music.”

Keys, like many other musicians, have been spending the pandemic streaming.

“We had a friend who was into streaming, he was like, ‘Hey, try this multi-camera stream thing out,’” she said. “We did and it just kind of took off from there. “

The night KSL-TV interviewed Keys, she was streaming on Twitch, the popular gaming platform, from her colorful “music room,” lit with a rainbow of colored lights. Her partner, Melahn Atkinson, operated several cameras, while a friend down the street remotely switched the cameras on the stream.

“Our reach this year alone has been bigger than touring the last six years,” she said.

Three months before the pandemic, drummer Bob Smith, who performs with several different bands, got a new lease on life in the form of a new liver. By March, he was ready to play again on St. Patrick’s Day and beyond, but he couldn’t.

“The reality set in and that was that there are no gigs,” said Smith.

He has rebooked all of the summer festivals he couldn’t play last year and has started rehearsing again with the band, Fry Pan. He also plays with the Gorgeous Gourds, Memphis McCool, Orphans Cabaret and Kate MacLeod.

“Well, one thing that I missed the most was just getting together and even rehearsing or playing with other musicians at all,” he said.

Singer-songwriter Michelle Moonshine said she has been performing about one or two nights a week, instead of the usual four or five.

One thing she has taken away from living in a pandemic is not to worry so much about work and, paradoxically, not to work so hard.

“I’m tired of wondering and guessing and being anxious about like, what’s gonna happen next and things like that,” she said.

In the Salt Lake City apartment she shares with her songwriter-husband Andrew Wiscombe and their children, she sang the only song she wrote during the past year and a half.

We could have put the kids into bed

With little kisses and a song

But I’m six Beams deep, missing out on sleep Wondering where it all went wrong

“I have routine for the first time in my adult life. You know, we, especially with my son, it’s super important. We do, you know, dinner, bath time, bed,” she said. “There’s more to life than just the cycle of working and sleeping and eating. I feel like it’s a huge, I don’t want to sound hippie-dippy, but like, changing consciousness a little bit.”

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Musicians Slowly Return To The Stage After Live Music Stopped Due To COVID-19