SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Local musicians are looking to make their comeback as restaurants reopen, but many are still waiting for bookings.
Restaurant owners are scaling back hours, capacity, and live performances. Many Grand Strand restaurants thrive off live performers for business but aren’t able to schedule bands because of capacity or financial circumstances.
It’s the first time in two months Andrew and Brittany are back on stage.
“We are excited, we are nervous,” Brittany Carter, of If Birds Could Fly Band said.
The couple drew a similar audience at Neal and Pams two months ago to this day.
“It’s funny because this band was actually the last band to play before we closed and they just so happened to be on the schedule,” Zach Baker, Neal and Pam’s owner said.
The band ‘If Birds Could Fly’ is used to playing a full schedule. Sometimes in the heart of Surfside Beach, other times on the Marshwalk, or anywhere on the road.
“I follow them from here to Virginia to listen to them,” Cindy Jones, a Surfside Beach local and fan said.
It’s a full-time job, but since COVID-19, every future show they had booked has been canceled. As restaurants reopen, not all are rebooking.
“We don’t even know when we are going to be able to go back to a full-time schedule,” ” Andrew Carter, If Birds Could Fly singer said.
COVID-19 brought financial struggles for many businesses. As restaurants get back running to 50% capacity and takeout, some are holding off on live music, according to performers. Other owners are working to scale back.
Live music draws music-goers and locals to restaurants, helping business pick back up. On Tuesday evening, fans like Jones made up a social distancing crowd hanging out at Neal and Pams.
Before the coronavirus bands were booked back to back daily. For now, some owners plan to scale back on bookings.
“Ordinarily, we’d have a one or two-piece outside during happy hour and then a four or 5 piece band outside on stage for the main act,” Baker said.
For Brittany and Andrew, any opportunity on stage is something they won’t turn down right now. The couple says they are playing anywhere if the date’s open.
“We just have a blast playing live so we are just excited to be around people again and it’s a fun experience to just share music together and just forget about things for a minute,” Carter said.
Performers work primarily off restaurant fees and the rest tips. The owner of Neal and Pam’s says they’ve been working to book solo or duo acoustic acts to prevent large gatherings on stage.