Crowbar, a 13-year-old live music venue in Ybor City, held streaming-only, live music events over the weekend. Breaks between sets outlined what patrons could expect when, and if, the venue, was ever allowed to reopen again: cashless entry, disposable drinkware, an outdoor beer garden stage, sanitation station, air purifiers in HVAC units inside, permanent streaming options plus seated and quiet shows with 80 stools and 20 standing stops.
Some slides encouraged viewers to contract their state representatives to ask them to #saveourstages.
This spring, as Governor Ron DeSantis ordered his business to shut down in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Tom DeGeorge had one of the most optimistic outlooks on what the quarantine period might look like.
There was no way that DeSantis and other government officials would turn their backs on businesses who willingly did the right thing and closed to preserve the health of others; the government asked his live music venue to close, so they would surely help where they could. Then DeGeorgeco-founder and general manager of Crowbar live music venue in Ybor Citycouldn't get a PPP loan. In early May, he told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, "Not only do I have, you know, probably $400,000 in lost gross revenue, but if I'm only getting $50,000 it's not gonna carry me through the whole year. It's just wrong. There's no way to do it because the shows aren't going to be there."
But he stayed positive.
Then the reopening started happening, irresponsibly, all around him. When he was finally allowed to reopen, DeGeorge pulled the plug on his socially-distanced, "new normal" reopening show at the last minute due to a staff member being exposed to COVID-19. Then the state re-closed onsite consumption for bars, and DeGeorge got pissed.
But he kept trying new things, and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Crowbar did three streaming concerts with bands like Queen of Ex, Tribal Style, Shawn Kyle, Bangarang and more (pictured here).
Sadly, the venue is going quiet for the time being since DeGeorge said the gigs would "Probably be the last you see of Crowbar for awhile."
"I want everyone to understand Im trying to do what I can to survive but its extremely difficult. The government has put my industry in an unenviable position," DeGeorge wrote on Sunday.
For now, he's still paying the bills, but his business cannot make money right now, so he's busy with other plans to try and save it. He knows he could "break the rules and get a food truck or something," but even then, DeGeorge wouldn't feel responsible by opening at a time when Florida just saw 15,000 new cases being reported.
"Its very sad that the GRANTS have been so minimal and that business owners are put in this situation and in some instances we are now playing a game of fend for yourself and survival by any means necessary," DeGeorge added. He called it criminal that other businesses can have bands, DJs, drag shows, burlesque shows, strip shows, you name so as long as there's a kitchen that makes the venue capable of serving food.
"I dont necessarily blame the businesses for doing it, I dont envy the situation anyone is in," DeGeorge wrote, "but if we dont get these numbers under control theres a great possibility that I will never open again and many others will never open again. Be safe. Be smart." Ray Roa
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