Elderberry Étouffée. Twenty Twenty Smothered in Good & Plenty

December 1, 2020 by 1888media

As with all new years, but especially with new decades, it was supposed to be a rebirth. 

My year ironically began in a socially-undistant crowd as I rung in the new year with tens of thousands of revelers at Universal Studios in Orlando. As the clock struck midnight in Diagon Alley and the Ukrainian Ironbelly Dragon roared with fire overhead, I raised my frosty stein of Butterbeer and bellowed, The Roaring Twenties are here again. Little did I (or anyone) know how prophetic that would become. 

January was a busy month. Kicking off with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Conference in NYC, it oscillated to NAMM in Anaheim and then culminated with Folk Alliance in New Orleans triumphantly ending with seeing Mandolin Orange at Tipitina’s, a bucket list venue for me. Even as early news of the virus broke, I began planning for SXSW as we had several artists booked with official showcases. When the festival was called off, the very lifeblood of Austin, it was an ominous sign.

When I walked out of Old Oak Cellars in Pasadena on March 15, having had Malibu song stylists, We Are The West do one of their Cellar Sessions, graciously hosted by Dave Lustig and Nancy Scott, I never would have fathomed that would have been my last show of the year as I usually attend 75-100.

We offer an array of services but most of our business is public relations much of which is driven by touring. Our roster, which includes Kevin Daniel, Beth Snapp, Carlos Calvo, Ariella, Devon, Tatiana DeMaria, The Haunt, Town Meeting, The Scooches, and Johnny Chops, are predominantly DIY artists for which touring represents 80-90% of their revenue.

In addition to a run of shows for SXSW, we had several spring tours on the calendar (which take 2-3 months to book) and a spot on Mountain Jam for Kevin Daniel. He was playing on Sunday with Brandi Carlile, Grace Potter, Yola and Michael Franti.

With venues in lockdown, we furiously went into scramble mode, first rebooking everything for fall and then jumping headstrong into livestream opportunities. Grateful that organizations such as FAR-West, The Boot, Americana Highways, Glide Magazine, Launch Global, California Women’s Music, Pancakes & Whiskey, The Bluegrass Situation, American Songwriter, idobi Radio, Mandolin, iVoted, bandsintown, BMI, Sofar Sounds, Sam Ash, Ojai Arts Exchange, Radio Woodstock and others provided a much needed lifeline to the industry to keep the wheels turning while also giving artists a chance to connect with fans, assuage anxiety, and provide comfort with songs and stories while making some money through donations, virtual meet ’n greets and thru ancillary platforms like Twitch and Patreon.

Let’s face it, the music industry has been among the hardest hit with even 2021 looking like a wash as well. The growing list of permanent venue closings is heartbreaking. RIP Slim’s in San Francisco, Satellite in Silver Lake, and Mod Club in Toronto. Decades of history evaporated. If a place like the Troubadour in W. Hollywood closed, the historical loss would be incalculable.

One of my favorite Troubadour stories is when a Warner Bros rep took one of their newest signings, Prince Rogers Nelson, to see/meet Miles Davis who was playing a multi-night stand. A truly iconic moment in time which is where we find ourselves now.

We’re all trying to figure it out but I know we’ll come out of this stronger than ever. The community, the fam, the brotherhood, the brethren, one thing is certain.

We’re better together.

As the adage goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I prefer to view it as when life gives you lemons, change the game because everyone else is making lemonade.

A silver lining from 2020, aside from the bloom of Zoom, is having more time to strengthen relationships, reacquaint myself with my core beliefs, renew my faith in the beauty of art and the transcendence of music and brainstorm for what’s next.

20/20, as in resolute eyesight, showed us what was broken, what can be mended and fostered a wave of ingenuity like never before. To me that’s eternally exciting and I’m embracing it with several new paradigm ventures in the works.

Looking back to that ten-second countdown in front of Gringotts, I am a Gryffindor, Hear. Me. ROAR. Twenty twenty, you’ve given plenty. Now, it’s time for ascension.

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