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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Local Musicians Weigh In On Economic Relief

Chicago Farmer and the Fieldnotes at a recent show at FitzGeralds in Berwyn, IL
Ron Horne
Chicago Farmer and the Fieldnotes at a recent show at FitzGeralds in Berwyn.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s order that all bars and restaurants in Illinois shut down until at least March 30 has delivered another blow to independent musicians already devastated in just the last week from the damage brought by the coronovirus.

A new bill expected to work through U.S. House committees this week is aimed at providing economic relief to the entertainment industry, and the airline and hospitality sectors.

Local music promoter Nick LeRoy thinks independent musicians and promoters should be part of that package.  He says March shows already canceled have been months in the making.

“Right now, I don’t even know where to go with stuff we’re in the middle of planning for summertime, what do we do?” asked an exasperated LeRoy. “To answer your direct question: I don’t know, but I sure hope that they’re going to think about the small folks who are going to need some help.”

As Leroy and Nightshop owner Chris Golwitzer pointed out on WGLTs Sound Ideas, musicians don’t get paid when events are canceled.

Bloomington singer/songwriter Cody Diekhoff doubts musicians would be part of an economic aid package, but understands the sentiment given that Congress has already bailed out Wall Street.

He reflected on recent tour stops in Denver and Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood when asked if he should receive money. “There have been masses of homeless people and people who are sick who don’t have a job at all, said Diekhoff, who performs as Chicago Farmer. “I think my temporary loss doesn’t even come close to comparing with what other people are going through.”

Diekhoff says he'd give any money he receives from a bailout to a non-healthy musician first, like those he knows battling cancer.

Jazz musician and educator Adam Larson also isn’t sure if independent musicians will be included in an economic relief bill. He took a proactive approach last week posting on social media ways musicians can apply for emergency grants and funding He notes musicians have already taken a hit in the gig economy with low Spotify and Apple music payouts for streaming and downloads.

“If there’s ever a time freelancer’s need support, it’s right now,” said Larson, who lost his entire March and April artist in residency bookings last week. “If you’re able to, contribute to musicians whose content you consume on a daily basis and may not being paying for. If you have a way to support an artist you enjoy, I would encourage you to do it, because it’s a very scary time.”

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