Missouri venues, musicians hoping for return to normal soon

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Many people are probably anxiously awaiting the chance to go to a concert or other live events once again.

Local venues such as the Gillioz Theatre are unsure when they will be able to open their doors again for concerts but hope it could be as soon as a few months.

It has been about a year since the seats were filled at the Historic Gillioz Theatre in downtown Springfield. Executive Director Geoff Steele said it has been a challenge this year trying to stay in people’s conscience, but have been limited in what they can do.

“The Gillioz like most venues in North America closed on Friday the 13th of March. This industry was the first to close, it will be the last to reopen, we just don’t have a timeline,” says Steele.

For the Gillioz, many of their music bookings depend on touring bands stopping in between larger markets, but that isn’t happening right now.

“It’s really much larger than Springfield,” said Steele. “We’re part of an ecosystem that depends on touring artists that are going to other places. Nobody comes to Springfield as a destination, they are on their way to somewhere else, or from somewhere else. If St. Louis, Kansas City, Tulsa, and Little Rock aren’t ready to resume touring, then probably Springfield won’t be able to resume touring.”

Steele said they have been able to show movies in the theatre to get some revenue coming in, but he is hopeful that things could get back on track by around Labor Day.

“I have no reason to scientifically to figure that out, but based on trends and what the industry is saying, that’s what we’re scheduling for,” said Steele.

One band that hasn’t had trouble staying busy this year is Machine Gun Symphony, an 80’s cover band based in Springfield. 

Lead singer Jay Stevens, who is also an on-air DJ for 104.7 The Cave, says they have been blessed over the last 12 months. The band played around 50 shows in the past year., but they often had to get out of Springfield to do it.

“Locally here it’s been a little bit different,” said Stevens. “Springfield was a little slower to get going. Now shows are doing limited capacity shows. We’ve been playing once a month at Southbound, those shows have been going real well.”

While they have been fortunate, Stevens knows several in the industry who have had it rough.
“Smaller clubs haven’t been able to do anything,” said Stevens. “Other people if that’s their only job, it’s been harsh. I know sound guys here locally too, that was their only job.”
However, he believes live music will rebound.

“Some people are starting to rebook those big tours, so it looks like life will kind of get back to normal,” said Stevens.

Stevens said they have received criticism this year for shows that had little social distancing, but he points out they were often in places that had no regulations, and says at the end of the day it is up to those who attend to decide for themselves.

As for the Gillioz, it’s part of the “Save MO Stages” initiative, along with over other venues in the state.

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