Best Of 2021

Best crusader for live music venues during a pandemic (or Best Fucker): Tom DeGeorge

Tom DeGeorge

When COVID-19 shut down live-music venues of all sizes last March, Tom DeGeorge, owner of the Crowbar in Ybor City, didn’t just sit around working his worry beads. Virtually overnight, he became a lobbyist. DeGeorge joined a scrappy group of about 40 independent venue owners and promoters who made enough calls and pitches and twisted enough arms to get a $15 billion piece of the nearly $900 billion federal pandemic relief package. It’s called the Save Our Stages (SOS) act, and it was signed into law in January. The group of newly minted lobbyists coined themselves The Fuckers, part of a larger trade group called the National Independent Venue Association. DeGeorge was the organization’s Florida/Southeastern “captain.” The Fuckers managed to get a key provision into SOS: It excludes businesses that operate in more than 10 states and employ more than 500 people, effectively disqualifying the likes of mega-promoters Live Nation and AEG, as well as House of Blues and Hard Rock Cafe. The rollout of the aid dollars, managed by the federal Small Business Administration, was cluster-fucky, but as of mid-September almost all venues had been funded. Crowbar received its initial grant in July, and was expecting more to come in October. Additionally, DeGeorge also sparked a movement called Safe & Sound, where business owners pledge to keep their establishments COVID-safe according to CDC guidelines. It’s become a badge of honor. Call DeGeorge a crusader, call him a fucker, but we think it’s certainly within reason to also call him a hero, too. @tom.degeorge.73 on Facebook.