On Reopening

I had a hard time sleeping last night, which isn’t new for me or for a lot of people I know right now. There have been a handful of times when I’ve ended up tossing and turning during this COVID-19 pandemic. I’m the type of person to make a decision, and then over-analyze it. That’s exactly what happened to me yesterday and last night, because as more and more things reopen, I’ve been talking to venue owners about future shows. I had to make a decision on how we were going to handle that.

That decision (made in consultation with Molly and Charlie, of course) is that we aren’t going to cancel gigs. So if we’re booked to play, and a venue can safely reopen under social distancing protocols, we’ll play. We will practice social distancing and wear masks when we’re not on stage. Now, I only know of one gig in the next month that is definitely taking place, and I feel great about that one. It’s outdoors, and run by awesome people. Several other venues have asked me to keep dates on the calendar, but it isn’t for sure that those shows are happening yet. I know that I’m overthinking this from that end. Many of those dates will probably still get called off or postponed. And we aren’t getting unemployment, so playing the gigs that stand is really the only choice from a financial standpoint.

But what kept me awake was not the risk to us; we’re young, 20-somethings in good health, and I’d bet on us having already been exposed during our West Coast tour in February/March. It’s the impact on others that I worry about. The people that will come to the shows who could potentially be at risk. Friends and family that we’ve been planning to go spend time with, who we may not get to see because we are going back to work. I’d been rooting for things to get cancelled in April and May. But I’d be lying if I said a part of me didn’t want to go back to “work” now that everyone else is, even though I know the danger has not passed. It’s so hard! Two dear friends that own small businesses have reopened or are reopening, and I know they feel the same way that I do. The virus is out there, it hasn’t gone away. We must be careful and take appropriate precautions. Social distancing and mask wearing is important. But at a certain point, if we’re allowed to go back to work…we kind of need to.

Of course, we have been working this whole time in other ways. The livestream concerts will continue, permanently. We love doing them! The new creative projects will continue. And after this year, I’m planning to cut back on touring and gigs to spend more time with family and friends and focus on all of the new stuff we’ve learned during this pandemic. But this summer, we will be playing live shows in conventional venues, and that’s something I couldn’t say a week ago. I hope this post serves to explain why.

About Brian Keith Wallen

Singer-songwriter and guitarist from Indiana. Proud dog dad.
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1 Response to On Reopening

  1. Mary Bomar & Bob Ritter says:

    Hey Brian…
    Good article…. we feel much the same. Had to cancel from March thru June 19th at this point. We think the rest of our summer/fall schedule will hold, with a few additiins still possible. The downtime for us has been strangely welcomed as we’ve been grinding away at this for a looong time. Did file and qualify for unemployment for a limited time, which has helped us breathe a little, but also will (hopefully) allow a cushion against possible future cancellations.
    Also agree with your thoughts about slowing down a little. Again, we’re quite a few years older than you guys, but the downtime has shifted our perspective & priorities to step off the treadmill and clock out every now and then.
    Be safe and well!

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