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Venues and bands get back to live, and masked, performances

Band members standing on stage
Mark Samano
Venues are opening back up in Michigan. Sabbatical Bob, a funk band in Ann Arbor, played at The Blind Pig's opening weekend.

Many clubs and bars opened last weekend since stay-at-home orders have gone into effect, and musicians are eager to return to work and play for an audience. One of the venues to open last weekend for the first time was The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor.

The Blind Pig reduced its occupancy to 100 people, giving concert-goers more room in the small space. Masks are also required for entry.

On stage at the club last weekend was Sabbatical Bob, a local funk band.

Band leaders Ben Green and David Ward said stepping out on the stage was “rejuvenating” after being apart during the statewide shutdown. 

Ward said sanitation is likely to be important to businesses that want to keep customers flowing into their building, including music venues.  

“If an establishment that's income is based on serving customers, was to open up at a time like this, hopefully they would take the proper precautions so that their business can remain open,” Ward said.

Credit Mark Samano
Ben Green, lead vocalist and trumpet player, singing at the show on Saturday.

Green said that there was a lively crowd at the post-shutdown show. But most profits at gigs come from the cover fees that customers pay when they arrive at the bar. With lower building capacities, profit margins will be slimmer.

“Even though we had a smaller audience I think it gave a little more of a chance to connect with them a little more and it seemed like, in between our set breaks and stuff, we had a chance to interact and talk to people a little bit, and because of that our merch sales were much greater and that was a good way to kind of subsidize that loss of money,” Green said.

While health is important to both Green and Ward, they said that they want to continue performing at local establishments to help them stay in business— even if the businesses cannot pay as much as before the lockdown.

“It’s more important that we do what we can to support our community and contribute towards the upkeep of clubs like The Blind Pig, like Ziggy’s in Ypsilanti, like all these great places around town, these beautiful gems that Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti have that anyone can go to and experience live music,” Green said.

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Catherine Nouhan

Stateside is produced daily by a dedicated group of producers and production assistants. Listen daily, on-air, at 3 and 8 p.m., or subscribe to the daily podcast wherever you like to listen.
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