Rumor Has It

Keep Music Live

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

While I haven’t seen Wild Buffalo owner and endless source of delight Craig Jewell in months because, well, COVID, I keep hearing rumors of endless Zoom meetings and top-secret shenanigans that are more serious than the kind of shenanigans he normally traffics in.

Along with those rumors are the ones that say Sir Mix-A-Lot is somehow involved, as are high rollers from the likes of Vulcan, Starbucks, and Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy Foundation. That’s some pretty rarefied company to be in, but given that nothing about Craig surprises me anymore because everything about him is a constant surprise, I’m ready to believe anything.

Those rumors coalesced into fact with the announcement of Keep Music Live, a COVID-19 relief fund for “small, independently owned venues across Washington state.” The goal is to raise $10 million with the aim of doling it out in grants to the small music venues that have been hit especially hard by pandemic shutdown orders. Unlike federal aid programs that seem uniquely devised to do everything they can to not help music venues while offering so little oversight that they’ve doled out millions to big businesses that should not need the assistance, to be eligible for a Keep Music Live grant, a venue must have a capacity of 1,000 or less and offer music at a minimum of three nights a week.

When awarded, the grant money can be used to cover all of the things venues so desperately need right now, such as “rent, insurance, staffing, PPE and safety modifications.” Venues that have received other forms of funding remain eligible for the money from Keep Music Live, and because the payout is a grant, it will not have to be paid back.

To be clear, Keep Music Live grants are separate from the funding sought by All In WA, the Washington Nightlife Music Association, the National Independent Venue Association, and the various federal measures currently before the House and Senate. To be clearer, most, if not all, of these funding sources will need to be brought to bear in order to save, not just some venues, but the entire ecosystem of music venues currently struggling. And maybe I’m a crazy talker, but I believe that saving every venue should be the goal. COVID has taken enough. We must preserve what’s left.

Helping to facilitate Keep Music Live is its nonprofit partner, none other than the Whatcom Community Foundation. Since the second it became clear COVID would exact an enormous economic toll on those least able to pay it, the Whatcom Community Foundation has mobilized and marshaled its considerable forces to help all they can. Always a resourceful and effective philanthropic force under normal circumstances, the pandemic has proven them to be even more powerful under pressure. We’re all going to owe them a big ol’ hug when we’re allowed to hug again.

Past Columns
Until We Meet Again

December 22, 2021

The Long Goodbye

December 8, 2021

Deck the Halls

November 24, 2021

Keep on Keeping Music Live

November 10, 2021

It’s Spooktacular!

October 27, 2021

Set the Stage

October 13, 2021


September 29, 2021

Back to the Future

September 15, 2021

Takin’ It To the Streets

September 1, 2021

Days of Delta

August 18, 2021

Just the Vaxx

August 4, 2021

Sounds of Summer

July 7, 2021

Signs of Life

June 23, 2021

Shots fired

June 9, 2021

Show Them the Money

May 26, 2021

Bits and Pieces

May 12, 2021

Life Rolls On

April 28, 2021

Party in the Park

April 14, 2021