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How live-event performers are feeling the effects of shutdown

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SPRINGFIELD — From musicians to local pro-wrestlers, anyone who makes their living in front of a paying audience has lost money due to shutdowns stemming from COVID-19.

Entertainers we would normally rely on to help us escape from our real-world problems, are feeling some of the same effects you might be.

With ordinances and laws across the country preventing people from gathering in groups, those who rely on those crowds to make a living are trying to figure out how to keep things moving.

One person experiencing that is pro-wrestler/promoter “The Space Cowboy” Jason Jones.

For over 20 years, he has wrestled in front of fans all over the country. He is a promoter and talent for Mid-States Wrestling, who had their Springfield show postponed in March until June 20 at the Relics Event Center.

Jones says the lack of bookings for independent contractors like himself are taking money out of their pockets.

“I’ve lost 33 bookings just up until the end of May from the time that this started, to the first part of March,” Jones says.

Their payoffs rely on the amount of fans that come to their events, and the contributions those fans make through other purchases.

“We get paid when that person buys a ticket, and they sit in that seat and they watch our event. We get paid when they are at that event and their family comes and they take their kid over and buy them a poster or buy them a T-shirt, and they visit the concession stand, and they buy them a bag of popcorn and a coke, and they sit down and enjoy the show,” Jones explains.

Performers in major promotions like WWE and AEW are still getting paid because they are able to broadcast on TV in front of empty arenas – thanks to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis deeming pro-wrestling an “essential business” in that state.

But those normally full-time on the “independent scene” have it much harder right now. With many independent contractors having issues getting unemployment pay, Jones says they are counting on fans to support them through things like merchandise sales.

“That’s about the only source of income that a lot of these guys have,” says Jones. “Everybody wants an answer like, ‘When you coming back here, when you coming back there’ and it’s like, we don’t know. We’re just like everybody else,” Jones says.

In the meantime, lots of indie wrestlers are doing things to pass the time and keep their name out there on social media, much in the same way musicians are.

The Black Moods are a rock band who were right in the middle of a tour, before it was brought to a screeching halt.

Lead Singer Joshua Kennedy is from Wheaton, Missouri – a town of about 700 people. Under normal circumstances, they may have more people than that at their shows.

With their new album, “Sunshine” set to release on May 8, they felt a gut punch when their tour was canceled.

“We were booked all through April up until – we were supposed to open for Metallica on May 1st. So that one really stung when they canceled all that,” Kennedy says.

“When the tours canceled like that, that’s your life. Three or four months were already planned out. That’s where you make your money. With streaming sales like Spotify, you don’t get nothing out of that kind of stuff anymore. It’s not like the old days where you sell records and you made money.”

Now, their live shows on social media are how they are keeping their fans engaged.

“We’re just glad to keep doing what we do, and bring some positivity and brightness to everybody sitting at home,” Kennedy says.

They try to play shows every few months in Springfield or Joplin when they are in the area.

The Black Moods new single, “Sunshine”, is the title track from their new album, available on streaming services – with the video on YouTube.

As for Mid-States Wrestling, their event in Springfield, Missouri is tentatively scheduled for June 20 at the Relics Event Center. For more information or to purchase tickets, you can visit mswtickets.com

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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