Conrad here (your humble music director and Guy Who Deals With Most Of The Biz).
As y’all were aware, we had to postpone our spring tour till the fall. Now, we have had to postpone the postponed dates. And worse, given the current situation, we’re not even attempting to reschedule anything until we see how things go over the next few months.
I want to explain why though, since it’s not just a matter of avoiding SARS-CoV-2. Full disclosure, too: the things affecting me and the band as performers during a pandemic are affecting millions of other people too, and I thought it would be a positive thing to be as open as possible. For those of us in the arts, we’re looking very seriously at the end of our livelihood for the foreseeable future.
First and foremost, yeah, because of the current situation with the virus, we couldn't take a chance that everything would be magically better by October. Most of the work to prepare for the tour and promote would have needed to start in July/August, and a lot of money would have had to go out in advance to cover things like hotels, airfare, advertising, and so on. Doing all that for a tour we can’t count on actually happening just isn’t practical, so we had to make the call to pull the plug.
Another thing is the fact that so many of the venues we play in are under serious financial stress. There’s no guarantee many of them will still be open by October, and two venues on our regular route have already gone out of business.
Tied into that is another reason we’re postponing: the money needed to keep this project moving forward.
I fund this project out of my own pocket, mostly from my gigs as a sideman and as a sound designer for theater/opera. It is not cheap to put 11 people on the road, and since the band is still new and relatively unknown, I’ve had to cover a substantial shortfall on every tour so far.
That was expected, though – it’s part of the game, and 2019 was intended to be the investment that would set us up for 2020 and beyond.
Bu then…SARS-CoV-2….. I haven’t had a gig since February, and I doubt I’ll have one before 2021. Live music is one thing, but the theater/opera gigs that are my bread and butter are not coming back any time soon.
So, even if we thought it was safe to tour in the fall, I don’t have the capital available to get the bus rolling in the first place. And since everyone in the Bongos is a professional musician, nobody is in a position to cover their own flights or hotels in a gamble that we’d sell enough tickets to cover expenses.
All of that is NOT intended to set y’all up for a pitch on a GoFundMe campaign – just laying out the financial realities involved in touring and developing a new project. And The Furious Bongos are just one tiny example of what’s happening throughout the music/theater/entertainment industry.
And last but not least, to be perfectly honest, there are the very real concerns surrounding the election. That’s not intended as a political statement; it’s a practical assessment as a production/tour manager. Our tour would have run from the end of October into early November, and our route included a lot of hot spots in heavily contested areas. With so many other variables of the tour equation already in question, that’s just one more potential thing that could go sideways. And I do feel like from what we’ve seen so far, it would be a mistake to assume the current instability couldn’t get worse.
With all of those considerations, it would be irresponsible of me as a band leader and, more importantly, as a friend to ask these folks to put themselves at risk. I hope that y’all understand, and trust me, we wish this wasn’t necessary.
Don’t worry – we’re not dead. We just smell funny.
Be kind. Be safe. Wash that thing.