After a brutal year for musicians, with livelihoods still severely hindered for many, local music venues have gained a new appreciation from deprived music lovers. Damon Hare is the main talent buyer for the EARL, and runs the Triple D’s Production company, booking acts for Variety Playhouse, Terminal West, and other beloved Atlanta scenes. Hare joined “City Lights” senior producer Kim Drobes via Zoom to talk about his experience confronting the COVID-19 pandemic, and how he’s working towards getting live music back at the EARL.
“I had a baby the week everything closed. So I was prepared for my life to change overnight, but I didn’t expect the entire world to completely change so drastically,” said Hare. “We had hundreds of shows booked, and so did every venue in the country. And it was just super bizarre to have to think about having to shut them all down… And as each week went by, you’d keep hearing some experts saying, ‘No, you’ve got your hopes up if you think it’s going to be a couple months.’”
After a mass cancellation of their entire event calendar, months spent fully closed, and finally operating until recently in pure survival mode, the EARL adjusted to accommodate more outdoor guests by creating dining spaces in their adjacent parking lot. Hare suggested the outdoor spaces might remain, given their popularity. They also hosted virtual online livestreamed shows, maintaining the traditions of some of their most beloved yearly shows, such as the Charlie Brown Christmas Special with Jeffrey Bützer.
The EARL will return to hosting performances on July 11 with its 22nd anniversary show, to be held outdoors in the parking lot, a daytime show, free to the public. Indoor shows will be resuming on July 28 with mask-wearing optional for audience members. “It’s just going to be a learning process for everybody. We’re all going to be in this together as a united front,” said Hare.