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As live concerts are placed on an indefinite hold due to pandemic restrictions, musicians have seen most of their gigs dry up quickly—forcing them into a professional limbo.
Thanks to Dazzle, they’ll now have a place to wait out the storm. The downtown watering hole is opening its doors with Bread & Jam—a weekly event during which local musicians can stop by for a hot meal to-go and additional support services, while musical groups conduct live-streamed performances from inside the venue. The event will take place on Saturdays and Sundays in the coming weeks, beginning with a kick-off performance by the Cass Clayton Band on Friday, December 4.
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In the last nine months, the venue has shifted from a music venue to a resource center for artists in need of support. According to owner Donald Rossa, the loss of live gigs has prompted other problems within the music community, including a rise in mental health issues and substance abuse, as well as a lack of basic resources. With help from musician and co-host Cass Clayton, as well as jazz musician and co-host Stafford Hunter, the group decided on an event that would address the community’s practical needs, while simultaneously providing a much needed musical outlet.
“For musicians, when we’re not gigging, when we’re not out playing, a lot of the time we are going to somebody else’s show,” Clayton says. “We socialize at shows, our entire life is around shows, so not being able to do our own music, and then not being able to hear our friends—it’s had an emotional, mental impact.”
As musicians stop by Dazzle on weekends to pick up pre-prepared soups and stews to be heated at home, they’ll also be able to connect with a network of support services for mental health and substance abuse issues. In an effort to sustain the local music scene, event organizers are recruiting new bands to participate in the weekly performances, who will be compensated with revenue gained from donations. The goal, Rossa says, is to get musicians to channel the difficulty of this time into their work.
“Going to drugs and alcohol is not the answer—going to your music and having nourishment to keep on making music is the prime goal,” Rossa says. “So that live music does not die, and so that people are continuously hearing live music. Live music is the inspiration, it’s what feeds the minds and souls of the community.”
Those who want to help out—and get their fix of live music along the way—can tune into both free and ticketed live streams on Saturdays and Sundays to donate to performers. Dazzle will also be accepting drop-off donations of dry goods and gift cards on Saturdays, at their own venue, as well as the Muse Performance Space in Lafayette, as they seek to keep their food pantry fully stocked.
“Dazzle wouldn’t exist without the musicians, and we need to make sure these guys are fed and have support,” Rossa says. “We just want them to know that there’s a support mechanism out there, working and available, and we believe in this.”