By now the world has ‘celebrated its first anniversary with the Covid pandemic. We went from day to day bullshit to wearing masks, washing everything, and no hugs. South Africa included where we thought hard lockdown would be a few weeks…turned into months of being limited in doing what we can do. Where we can go and who we can see. Reliving apartheid all over again in a sense.
2020 was predicted to have been a good year for music and festivals. But Covid is like the parent to a teenager that stopped all of it. Took away our toys and put them in the cupboard out of reach. Here at Small Town Music all the press releases dried up alongside the events, festivals, and new music. We watched concerts on Zoom and other outlets and we were trying to stay positive but it was difficult. Soon enough we couldn’t continue and had to take a break. Finances forced us to no longer even support any of the music. Which is a sin in our world and asking for forgiveness.
As 2021 broke I was awake and hoped that soon there will be a light to this twilight zone we were in. Was it just me or did it feel like a bad movie? During 2020 I felt sick to my stomach when I heard all the crazy rumors and conspiracy theory networks had a field day with Covid. I had to find hope somewhere. Grab any sunlight in this shit storm. So when 2021 arrived it felt like an extension of 2020 – like 2020.1. But I knew it couldn’t go on forever and as more and more friends in the entertainment, events, and arts lost their jobs. Lost their companies and theatres. Lost the ability to look after themselves.
Lockdown level 1 has provided at least a new sense of normal. I’ll wear a mask as long as it takes but shit just gives me some music dude. I don’t expect a festival (although it will be fantastic) but let’s get some tunes going. Speaking to some Lowveld-based musicians they all pretty much told me the same thing. They have more bookings now than they did before Covid. They have more inquiries, more people at their shows, and more support. Hold your tits Covid police – the people are limited to government regulations. But it is fantastic to hear. We have seen how people stay now a whole show and not just a set. We see more families coming out to support live music on Sundays. You have to book ahead, something that was never required in the Lowveld. Unless you went to the Spur when it’s month-end in the ’90s. What a great feeling.
Thus far 2021 has been kind. Yes many of us have attended more funerals (online and in person) than we wish. Some of us are expecting the UFOs to land any minute now. In March it felt like New Years’ to me since we can do more in events. The crystal balls predict that we, the country’s arts, might never recover from this. Yet I am hearing of theatre programs starting up to give young people the opportunity to see what careers there are in the theatre besides being actors. I am seeing NPO’s asking for help and receiving more than they ever expected. I am hearing more new music coming out and new ways of experiencing it on a shoestring data budget.