CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The pandemic has silenced many performing and touring musicians for the better part of a year, and popular venues have been empty. But they’re hoping they won’t be quiet much longer.
“I really want to play. Financial obligations aside, you realize it’s who you are and it’s what you do,” said musician Neil Zaza.
The Cleveland native usually spends most of his year touring around Asia and Europe.
“We were half-way through a month-long U.S. tour and we had to shut it down. My band is a bunch of Italian guys. They flew home and it’s been in shut down mode ever since,” he said.
Zaza has tried to keep a positive attitude, using the downtime to write and record, but he’s more inspired by performing.
“I’m embracing it, but now it’s time to get to the other side,” he said. All his livelihood comes from touring.
“It’s been difficult because you know, behind the scenes, the life of a touring musician is you make a pile of money, the pile goes down and then you go back,” said Zaza.
Dante Boccuzzi kept his Tremont music venue, Coda, shuttered from last March until January.
“They were all part of our lives. We have all these kids coming in here and all these bands, and then all of a sudden everyone is gone,” Boccuzzi said.
He created a parking lot summer series “Codapalooza” to give musicians a place to play, and to give music lovers, a place to escape.
“It’s a huge part of people’s lives, and to take that out….it hurts,” he said.
Moving forward they’ll limit capacity inside at coda to only about 20 people, with barriers and assigned seats.
“It’s not the same energy, but it’s pretty damn close,” said Boccuzzi.
“Live is always going to be better. I work in live. I believe in live. Live is where it’s at. But there is going to be something as people want to consume differently,” said Managing Partner of Rock the House, Ryan Konikoff.
He believes the future of live events, is hybrid, where people will get to choose the way they consume entertainment.
“You’re not just going to get a feed of that side screen at a concert, you’re going to get a very customized experience,” he said.
Gone for now, are the stadiums packed with people for mega concerts because of people’s budgets and comfort levels.
“If parents that have young kids want to watch a concert in their cool basement and have five friends over because going downtown to a big show with parking is either out of their budget or out of their lifestyle right now why should we stop them from still having their experience?” he said.
The Save Our Stages Act is something that promises to give venues like the Grog Shop and the Beachland Ballroom a fighting chance. It earmarks $15 billion for independent venues to help prevent them from going under.
“But unfortunately what it didn’t do was it didn’t give any funding to those of us that work in live music venues that make our money doing the lighting, the sound, the live music,” Konikoff said.
He says 94% of the live event industry has lost 90% of more of their income.
It’s important to Boccuzzi to keep live music alive.
They take guidelines and protocols seriously, because they’ve got a lot to lose if something goes wrong.
“We do what’s right. But at the same time, we need to live and enjoy,” Boccuzzi said. “I can’t wait to get back to it now,” Zaza said.