Covid-19 Takes Its Toll On Local Venues: Ways To Help And Stay Connected

Stay calm and stay kind Houston.
Stay calm and stay kind Houston. Photo By Shannon O'Hara
With Covid-19 taking the world hostage and authorities advising everyone to stay home and avoid crowds, one of the industries that felt the effects first, besides the stock market, was the service industry.

As the news rolled out about the endless concerts and tours were cancelled all over the world, small clubs and bars were trying their hardest to make due with the hand they had been dealt and fill in the gaps wherever possible.

“I think as service industry people, we get really accustomed to working in high pressure and unusual situations,” says Jennifer Caldwell of the Continental Club.

Unfortunately one of the biggest industries in our large city was dealt the hardest blow with the announcement that there would only be roadside and delivery services permitted for restaurants.

Where does this leave Houston’s smaller and more cherished venues, or even larger organizations like the Rodeo? No one is sure but if Houstonians are in a position to help out, there are some ways to do it.

For starters, if you bought tickets to an event that has been canceled, instead of asking for a refund for money you already spent, consider donating it to the venue and the artists. What may be a small amount to an individual means a lot to an artist, small business or a rodeo food vendor.

Hopefully all of this chaos and social distancing will come to an end in the warmer months to come and we can all get back to going out. What better way to save the date and support small businesses simultaneously than buying a gift card to that establishment for a future event.

“It's an issue of the venues needing to continue to be sustainable and make money, but I think it's more an issue of us coming together now and helping support the community of musicians, bartenders and service industry people that are displaced because they don't have shows and they don't have work,” says Caldwell.

Venues and artists also have merchandise to offer from stickers and T-shirts to albums, any purchase will help small venues and artists get income at a time where they don’t know where their next paycheck will come from or how they will pay their staff.

Local record label The What Of Whom has released a special T-shirt with a re imagined version of their logo incorporating the medical masks worn by 15th century doctors. Proceeds will benefit artists on the label directly who were affected by the cancellation of their March and April tours.

Some of Houston’s clubs also have food to offer. Houston’s legendary Mucky Duck draws fans from all over to celebrate St. Patrick’s day and though the party won’t be the same, patrons can drive up for “Roadside Corned Beef” and “Shepards Pie on the Fly” according to Teresa Andrews.

“Instead of emptying out the grocery store shelves, maybe they can just order a sandwich from a small business,” she says. The Mucky Duck, along with countless other local businesses, have been assuring patrons of their role in preventing the spread of disease and have ramped up their already good cleaning practices.

The Mucky Duck will also have festive bagpipes in the parking lot for drive by customers to get a socially distanced St. Patrick’s day experience. The venue is also selling their custom designed T-shirt for their biggest holiday of the year.

Another restaurant with musical ties is Natchee's on Main Street, part of the expanding Continental Club Island. Natachee's will be offering curbside delivery to hungry patrons, a great time to indulge in some comfort food.

Saint. Arnold Brewing Company has also gotten creative with their menu, offering hungry Houstonians some great pick up options featuring pizza, hamburgers and of course, beer.

Artists around town, and the world, are scrambling to play music and have some kind of income. Many local artists are taking to the streets of Facebook to perform for virtual crowds and accepting tips. When you have nothing coming in, every dollar counts and when you have nowhere to go, the internet may be our only option for live music and connecting to one another.

Fans can do a quick Facebook search for their favorite local artists and see what they might be able to partake in from a safe distance.

For artists and bartenders there are some limited resources out there. Houston Arts Alliance has posted a link to their list of COVID-19 resources. Bartenders may be able to apply for assistance through the USBG National Charity Foundation.

There may not be much that we know for sure, but we all know we will not make it through this trying time without lending a helping hand in anyway we can.  Houston has repeatedly proven to have a collective heart as big as the outer loop, now is the time to prove it again. 
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.
Contact: Gladys Fuentes