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State lays out plans for return of live music; venues, performers question feasibility

1 month 1 week 6 days ago Tuesday, March 02 2021 Mar 2, 2021 March 02, 2021 9:28 PM March 02, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Tuesday's announcement that Louisiana would be moving into 'phase 3' signaled the return of live music after nearly a year. But the new rules were not music to the ears of some venues or performers.

"They act like they're helping the venues out by opening up at 25%, and you've got to have 6 HVACs and all that stuff like that," said Derek Shipley, lead singer of Parish County Line. "Nobody really has that stuff, man. They're not helping nobody."

Parish County Line, a staple of Baton Rouge stages and a favorite across south Louisiana, has, like many other performers, had to change its tune this past year with COVID-19 restrictions silencing music venues.

"It's just heartbreaking, man. It really is," Shipley said. "The only thing that is keeping us going [are] the fans and the new music we have coming out."

The state's plan for the return of live music was released Tuesday by the fire marshal's office. It permits a maximum of 250 people, with the entire audience seated and 20 feet from performers. Musicians who are not singing or playing wind instruments must wear masks at all times.

The venue's HVAC system must provide a minimum of six "air changes per hour," according to the state fire marshal's office.

Any venue hosting live music must also do one of these:
- direct airflow towards performers/stage.
- have an independent HVAC system for the performance area.
- place Plexiglas or another barrier separating the stage and audience.
- have singers wear masks while performing.

Some said the guidelines make having live music nearly impossible.

"The numbers are stopping us," Shipley said. "If you can't go to the venue and pack the place then you're not making the venue any money and the venue can't pay."

In June, Parish County Line performed for 250 people at Baton Rouge's Texas Club as a trial run for the state's reopening process.

"That was the restrictions that we had," Shipley said. "You know, we didn't make that much money, man, if any at all."

Just last weekend, the group took the stage in Mississippi, which announced Tuesday that it is lifting its mask mandate and other virus restrictions.

The band has gigs planned in Florida, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, but hopes to return to a local stage soon.

"We want to bring good times back into people's lives," Shipley said. "They need it desperately. I need it desperately, and we're ready for it. Whether we have to go to other states to do it, so be it. We're ready to roll."

Click here for LASFM 'phase 3' guidance.

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