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Local musicians, venue owners push for live music to come back

photo courtesy of James Scoolis
Burning James and the Funky Flames performing live pre-pandemic

With music venues closed and COVID-19 restrictions in place, musicians have been out of work for months. Now local musicians are circulating a petition, advocating for an end to the prohibition of live music events.

James Scoolis and his band the Funky Flames are used to performing in front of crowds, but the pandemic put an end to that months ago, and now Scoolis is hoping the restrictions relax. “Obviously, we want to play music for people," Scoolis said, "but what we are specifically looking for from the government is just some common sense guidelines.”

Scoolis and other Central Coast musicians are collecting signatures to urge Governor Newsom to allow some live music. Scoolis says musicians like him know large concert venues aren’t a good idea, but they want to be able to play in socially distanced settings. “Restaurants and wineries operating, by definition, have social distancing and all the precautions in place," Scoolis said. "Whether or not there is music involved, doesn’t really impact that.”

Terry Lawless is a one-man band who plays several instruments and has toured around the world with U2 and Pink to name a few. He has found a loophole in the restrictions. Instead of playing live he’s spinning records of his music at venues. “They are exactly the same tunes that I’d be playing there," Lawless said, "yet, I am allowed to do recorded music but I am not allowed to do live music.”

Lawless says the blanket rule of no live music at all just doesn’t make sense. He’s hoping this petition will convince Governor Newsom that live music can be done safely in some settings. “If you want to make rules, I have nothing against being safe," Lawless said, "but we can do this safely and the arts are just something that’s absolutely needed.”

Ryan Orr, Entertainment Director at SLO Brew thinks some establishments are able to have live music without increasing the risk of COVID transmission. “We have three acres of outdoor space and we have 75 tables outside that are naturally distanced," Orr said, "so it's really nice to be able to facilitate live music since we have space, in a safe way.”

To learn more about the petition click here

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