Mason Via from Danbury is having a lot of fun.
“So much fun,” Via, who had just boarded a bus to Florida, told the Carolina Journal.
“That’s good. It’s a killer.
Via, in his early 20s and extremely talented string musician, has already accomplished so much. Might as well be grateful. Now, above all. Now that the music is back.
The music, well, fell asleep in March 2020, when state governments shut down just about everything except stores and supermarkets.
Clubs offering live music have been asked to close. Music festivals have been canceled. Live concerts? All gone.
Governor Roy Cooper, citing the drop in COVID infections and the increase in vaccinations, this month reopened the state, though not completely free and completely. Enough, however, that fall festivals can start booking and music clubs, open with limited capacity since March, can start making money again.
Via, son of singer and songwriter David Via, recently spent his savings moving to Nashville, which was hit by a tornado in March. So there was that. COVID closures quickly followed.
“When the pandemic hit everything was canceled… it was very difficult for me,” Via said. ” I just moved [to Nashville] be with people all the time and network. It looked like a global apocalypse.
“It got a little out of hand.”
He returned to North Carolina.
“There’s nothing for me here right now,” he recalled thinking at the time, referring to his release from Music City.
Right now meaning then. Before walking to the precipice of fame.
Via applied for many jobs, he says, and spent some time as a substitute teacher at a military academy. He still played music and sometimes even earned more than before COVID. Maybe people paid more out of sympathy, he said.
Before the pandemic subsides and governors relax mask mandates etc. Before Via gets a ticket for “American Idol”, Which places it in the top 40. Before Ketch Secor, the leader of American rock stars Old Crow Medicine Show called for an audition.
“We’re looking for a new guy,” Via Secor recalls, saying, “and we think you might be. “
Before Secor asks Via to pack his bags and move to Nashville. Before Via took to the iconic stage Grand Olé Opry, and before he got on that bus to Delray Beach.
The other band from Via, the one that bears his name – Mason Via and Hot Trail Mix Band – is due to play on June 27 at the Koka Booth Amphitheater to Cary as part of the Lakeside Bluegrass series from PineCone.
Koka Booth reopened to the public on April 1, after 15 months of silence. The theater will host movie nights, jazz and bluegrass artists, and the NC Symphony. National festivals such as MerleFest in Wilkesboro, which moved its traditional dates from April to September, are back. The International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass, online last year, will likely return with in-person shows as well, as well as virtual shows.
The IBMA and the City of Raleigh are negotiating to keep the mega-festival in Raleigh until 2024. The city is reportedly paying a total of $ 180 million for the three-year deal.
“In 2019,” says City Council minutes, “the event saw more than 200 numbers perform, 218,000 participants and alone generated $ 18.65 million in direct economic impact. Since the inaugural event in 2013, the IBMA festival has generated attendance of nearly 1.3 million people with an economic impact of $ 80 million for Raleigh and Wake County.
The downtown event is scheduled from September 28 to October 2, although the IBMA has yet to release a calendar of artists and other events. An announcement is expected in early June.
“I am honored and grateful to have worked so closely with our incredible partners in the City of Raleigh over the past six years,” said Paul Schiminger, who is retiring as Executive Director of IBMA at the end of May, in a statement. “I am also delighted that before handing over the leadership responsibilities of IBMA to a formidable new Executive Director, Pat Morris, we can put the finishing touches on an expansion to keep IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh until 2024 and hopefully well beyond. The IBMA and our entire bluegrass music community deeply appreciate the strong bond formed with Raleigh to present the most important bluegrass week in the world.
IBMA, in the non-COVID years, brings a myriad of artists to downtown Raleigh, with scenes dotting the streets – from the Capitol to the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts to the Red Hat Amphitheater – immersing fans in bluegrass and country. The music spread to the city’s music bars, part of the popular IBMA Ramble, to places such as the Lincoln Theater, the Kings and the Pour House Music Hall.
A year ago, the usually eclectic bars were strangely quiet. Empty.
The For the House, a VThe bustling Blount Street Hall has been a hub of live music since 1997. Last fall Adam Lindstaedt ushered me in through a side entrance, above a row of sandbags at the doorstep . He owns the club, as well as a record store upstairs.
Never mind the dust, he said, then before grabbing a stool at the bar, the dormant beer shoots along a wall a few feet away. He paused to adjust the yellow and black bandana covering his mouth. Shook his head.
“If it hadn’t been for the money on loan, we would have gone bankrupt a month ago,” he told me. “We would have gone bankrupt.
Things are better now, he said. Much better.
“A little crazy now that things are picking up speed again,” Lindstaedt told CJ this week. “We have a direction now. It is no longer a world of strangers.
The club reopened in March, on Fridays and Saturdays. At 19% of its capacity and limited to table seats. Lindstaedt personally seated each customer, explaining the rules so often that he ultimately decided to make a recording and play it instead.
“It was getting really exhausting.”
Buy some merchandise at the table and we’ll bring it to you. Masks, when they were not drinking or eating, were mandatory.
“It was fun to apply,” Lindstaedt said, noting that restaurants, for example, had been open for months and masks were not required at the table.
He said these rules inherently soften things up. The crowd quieter, the dances, the jumps, the shouts and the cheers put aside. Think of it like going to the movies or the theater, he told clients. Just sit and enjoy the show.
Lindstaedt, and bar and club owners like him, are trying to get rid of the dirt and get out of the steep debt holes created by lockdowns and deletions. At limited capacity, Lindstaedt said, it takes five shows to financially compensate for a sold-out show. Lots of extra work for a fraction of the income, he said.
The Pour House is back to full capacity this weekend, so expect things to get louder and more profitable.
Let there be music.
The line is taken from an old AC / DC song. But it couldn’t ring truer. Music performed in front of a crowd. Good music. Bad stuff too.
“I missed it so much. It’s so rewarding, ”said Via, who returns to the live scene at full speed without headphones, as a new member of one of the most dynamic bands in the world. A double boost of energy and a rock-solid rhythm.
Via will try to match this unparalleled energy, which, he says, “sometimes blows my mind”.
The music, now live, loud and unadulterated, will definitely help.
“Things are going well,” he said.