Savannah bars are now allowed to open after being closed for more than two months.
Business owners, managers and bartenders are glad to be back, and I’m sure many regular customers are already returning to their old habits.
Bars are important “third places” – spots beyond the home and the workplace where diverse community members can gather.
Some bars will have no trouble adjusting to the requirements for limited capacity, but others might find themselves in tight spots when they suddenly exceed the legal limits even on off nights when they do not normally have someone working the door.
Music venues remain closed, however, and might not reopen for many weeks.
Of course, a number of Savannah bars and restaurants are also venues.
In theory, some could eventually be allowed to book live music as long as they remain within the capacity limits and encourage social distancing, but I do not foresee such a nuanced policy anytime soon.
So that leaves Savannah’s many fine musicians largely shut out of the “reopening.”
Some will pick up occasional gigs in outdoor spaces that have already started booking bands. Some will soon be back at work at small weddings and other private events. Some will continue to use digital platforms to reach audiences, enhance the city’s culture and make a few bucks.
But we need to figure out more ways to support the area musicians who have enriched our lives in so many ways.
The most obvious steps involve outdoor performances, especially ones that could be booked by the venues that already have so much experience. We might need some hefty sponsorships and generous donations to make things work, but consider the possibilities.
We have a stage in Forsyth Park that hardly ever has performances. Imagine a late evening lineup of local musicians in a big space like that where distancing would be easy.
We have squares and other parks that can accommodate many people safely.
We have streets, too. The city of Savannah has given restaurants the option of using parking spaces or entire streets for dining, at least under certain circumstances, so why shouldn’t we be allowed to hear some music outside?
Consider West Congress Street between Barnard and Whitaker streets. Why not allow The Jinx and Barrelhouse South to take turns booking bands to play outside? Friday and Saturday nights might be tricky in terms of safety and crowding, but weeknights should be fine.
With so many other economic sectors open, we can surely find more ways to support our community of musicians.
Bill Dawers writes City Talk in Savannah Morning News and blogs at hissing lawns (www.hissinglawns.com).