Here Comes Sunshine: Summer Tour Kicks Off In North Carolina's Outer Banks
It's old news by now that COVID cancelled everybody's plans for the Spring, so obviously my Spring Tour (the entire 3 month tour) was just another of the casualties. As (most) people became more responsible about social distancing and the numbers started declining, there was hope for a decent Summer Tour, although optimism was cautious at best.
As predicted, the Summer is already proving to be less than the cakewalk we had hoped for. COVID numbers are spiking in 20 states, while others are still on the steady decline, so the rules and attitudes vary drastically from state to state. Suffice it to say, in some states venues are being very methodical and cautious, and have figured out how to do a good business given a lot of new rules. In other states breweries still aren't opening beyond curb service and don't know when they will... and in some states folks are being a tad reckless.
Booking has been a mess, as some are willing to book while hoping for the best, and others don't want to book anything ahead of the governor declaring it blessed. Some want to pencil things in as tentative, others don't want to even talk until it's over (good luck with that!). As such, as the dates approach the schedule is much more fluid than usual... I never have cancelations and the schedule is set in stone way ahead of time, but this year there have been last minute adds, and postponements. Luckily I think only one cancelation so far...
My Summer Tour typically starts with a month-long run of breweries up the East Coast, spending most of the time in the Carolinas and Virginia. South Carolina I was hearing was barely acknowleding the virus, and I decided to not go there until it was stable. North Carolina was initially looking good, but is now suffering one of the more drastic upswing in numbers, and as such venues are nervous, and either haven't reopened or are actually slowing things down a bit. As a result the tour opener in Wilmington was canceled, the second and third shows were postponed, and one of the Virginia dates rescheduled to my July visit.
So far it's all actually turned out for the best... I had planned on being in the Outer Banks/Virginia coast region for 2 weeks, but all but 2 of the first week's shows rescheduled, and it has been raining all week... so instead of blowing a lot of time in the rain with no shows, I've delayed my departure a few days, will arrive in the Outer Banks on Wednesday, play one show in NC on Thursday and another in Virginia on Saturday, return on NC on Monday and play Wednesday and Thursday in the Outer Banks, and another in Norfolk on Friday... a pretty relaxing schedule with plenty of time for the beach, eating out, maybe even some fishing!
One of the rescheduled dates worked perfectly... Pangea Tavern in Avon, NC (southern OBX, near Hatteras) was originally scheduled for the 17th, didn't think their staff would be ready yet, and pushed to the 25th... and it just so happens fans from my alma mater (Ohio University) will be staying with 20 other OU Bobcats just minutes away.... and I have a few other Bobcats in my entourage, so that should be some party on the 25th! I'm really looking forward to that one. The next night in Norfolk I'm playing at Elation Brewing, which is a fantastic looking venue that I'm also looking forward to.
I should probably mention, for those who don't know me personally, that I do take this COVID thing very seriously, and am being very cautious about this tour. I'm only playing venues that are either outdoors, or indoors with good ventilation and a serious safe disctance plan. I did cancel a show because I didn't think it seemed responsible, and like I said before, I'm outright avoiding states that currently don't seem to be taking this effort seriously. If a show is on my schedule you can trust that they have a good plan and it will be a safe environment (not to mention that breweries have to be extremely clean so as not to contaminate the fermentation process, etc.). While traveling I'm either alone, or with the people I normally live with... and during my days I'm usually isolated on the beach or on a patio having a meal, etc.
After the next couple of weeks on the coast I'll be heading back to Ohio, where on July 3rd we'll be playing the 3rd in our series of Grateful Dead nights at Little Miami Brewing. Then I'm doing a week of shows in the west coast beach towns of Michigan, then back to Ohio, and
then a long weekend of shows back in coastal Virginia, in Williamsburg and Gloucester (and another still confirming). August will be more midwest, NC, and hopefully SC if things are more stable, and September is still in the works.
Originally the plan was to spend late summer/early Fall in New York, New Jersey, and New England, and then do a run of shows in Oregon, northen California, and possibly Colorado... but at this point I'm holding off booking those. Too many variables currently, and unless things miraculously improve (no reason to think they will) I'll probably try focus more on local /regional gigs where the cost of cancelations, etc. is much more bearable.
The blog with stories from each of the tour stops will be continuing later this week, so stay tuned. Stay safe, healthy, and smart.