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February 2023
Vol. 22, No. 5
In Good Company

Bluegrass Corner

Dealing with Covid

by Dwight WordenJuly 2020

As we go to press, covid cases in San Diego continue to rise. The Governor has issued a statewide order that masks are now mandatory except in limited circumstances. County officials indicate we may have to back off from reopening.  Large gatherings, especially indoors, are last on the list of things to reopen. Overall the future remains very uncertain as to when bluegrass music concerts and events will again be in a position to take place.

So what can a diehard bluegrasser do? Here are some ideas, with the caution that you need to use your own good judgment, take into account your age, health-related risk factors, and other key factors.

  • Gathering with a small group of friends, or band mates, outdoors for a jam session may be okay. Recommendations:
    • Set up chairs in advance at least six feet apart, sanitize before and after. Even better, have each person bring his/her own chair
    • Everyone bring their own snacks and drinks to avoid shared service and contact
    • No one but the host enters the home
    • Keep it to a couple of hours or less to avoid the need for bathroom access
    • Wear a mask, remembering that singing spreads virus even more than talking


  • Outdoor concerts may start later this summer or fall while it is still warm. Keep in mind that outdoors is much safer than indoors. If you go to a concert seat yourself at least six feet from other persons except your family, and wear a mask.


  • Live Performing Indoors. Opportunities to perform live indoors for pay are likely still a ways off. Indoor music venues will be the last to open. When they do open restrictions will apply:
    • Social distance seating
    • Restroom management
    • Food and drink service restriction,
    • Masks
    • Table service
    • Number of patrons limits

As a performer you do not control most of this, but you will be exposed to the virus depending on how well the venue manages itself. And, you and your band may have legal exposure if something goes wrong or if you decide you need to cancel or leave mid-stream for your own safety. Check all these factors out with the venue in advance and assure yourself the gig will be safe and appropriate before you commit to a performance.

  • Online opportunities. There are unlimited resources online to enjoy bluegrass music from the safety of your home. IBMA is a great resource: A simple google search will find dozens more.
  • Zooming online is one way to stay in touch with fellow musicians and bandmates, as is participating in online meet up opportunities. Participating in these opportunities can help provide the social, interactive glue that covid has so significantly compromised.

Summergrass to Skip a Year. The annual Summergrass Bluegrass Festival scheduled for August 14-16, 2020 has been cancelled. After considering all the factors and after a survey of Summergrass fans, the decision was made to skip this year. You can read the Summergrass statement about all this here: Planning is already underway for 2021.

Live bluegrass will never die. It will be back. In the meantime, take care of yourself and loved ones and identify which options to re-engage make sense for your particular situation.

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