Honolulu’s live music ban pulls the plug on local artists, venues

Local News

When bars reopen in Honolulu Friday, there will be social distancing and new cleaning measures, but live singing will be nowhere to be seen, or heard.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been incidents of what they call the super spreading of COVID-19 during choir practices indoors. That has prompted Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell to pull the plug on live indoor entertainment.

“There’s cases in other parts of the country and the world where there’s been super spreader situations because of singing,” Mayor Caldwell said.

“Singing in an enclosed space is troubling and how do you protect people of course wearing a face-covering doesn’t work if you’re singing.”

Before the City and County’s emergency proclamation scratched live singing, Hawaiian Brian’s Social Club had sold out a show featuring local star artist Tavana.

“Yeah you know it was disappointing we had set up a dinner show and the tickets had sold out over night,” Tavana said.

Hawaiian Brians has transformed their main showroom for social distancing, reducing capacity from 500 people to 48.

“We had worked with some local restaurants to partner and make it a cool dining experience too but to call them and be like ‘oh sorry that this thing that we were really excited about that we were seeming really popular we’re going to have to shelf for the time being,” General Manager Lee Anderson said.

Projection of COVID-19 particles through singing could be controlled, according to Anderson.

“We understand that projecting their voice might cause spread of particles further but if you’ve been to our place specifically the distance from the performer to the closest audience member would be much further than 6 feet apart and probably twice as far.”

“If there was a concern there’s certainly things that we could’ve done to counter measure that including putting like a plexiglass shield.”

The family-owned business has been around for more than three decades. It is now another local establishment in danger of being taken down by COVID-19, which would leave many of Hawaii’s musicians and music lovers without a premier location.

“The concert entertainment event business is the majority of our business especially on good nights when we’re bringing acts that draw a lot of people,” Anderson said.

“To take that away is a pretty devastating blow.”

As for Tavana, the local soulful rock-and-roll blues artist has been creative in using streaming and social media to perform. He admits it’s not as good as performing for the people of Hawaii.

“It’s definitely my passion in life is to play in front of people live. It will be a really awesome time when I get to do it again, that’s for sure.”

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