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PORTLAND, Maine — It’s St. Patrick’s Day, but pubs usually packed by 6 a.m. are vacant in the city this morning. The city manager announced a curfew yesterday, keeping watering holes locked down until last call Tuesday in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
In Bangor, it’s a similar story with a curfew on bars, restaurants and other public gathering places starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Many venues across the state have decided to close completely until coronavirus fears simmer down. It’s a hard blow to musicians who usually make a fair amount of scratch while spreading joy throughout the day. That’s why many of them are taking their St. Patrick’s Day shows online.
Brunswick singer-songwriter Jud Caswell was playing live, on Facebook this morning, celebrating virtually with more than 50 fans. Caswell is the host of two weekly open mics at Byrnes’ Irish Pub in Bath and Brunswick.
“So glad you’re doing this. Brings a ray of light to an otherwise dreary day,” wrote Anthony Jamison in the comments below the video.
Popular Maine country artist Chris North has similar plans.
“This situation has been devastating for the music industry, and many of us have seemingly lost 100 percent of our incomes for the foreseeable future,” North wrote on his Facebook page this morning. “Either today or tomorrow (really depends on how long it takes me to hammer out the technical kinks and make sure it looks and sounds ok), I’m gonna be doing a live stream, playing songs in my PJs and trying to extort tips by showing off my dog. Stay tuned for exact details.”
Old Port pub veteran Dave Rowe is currently on a year-long boating trip in Florida but plans to stream live from his yacht “Stinkpot” at 7 p.m.
“With all the ‘social distancing’ and the pubs being closed on St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve decided that the songs must still be sung and the beverages consumed,” Rowe wrote online. “With this firmly in mind, I will play songs in honor of the ‘high holy day’ from aboard Stinkpot. To provide adequate encouragement to play your requests, to play longer, or to just buy me a virtual beer, feel free to make use of my electronic tip jar.”
National acts are heading online too. Long-running Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys out of Boston are planning on playing without a crowd tonight.
“For the first time in 24 years, we are not playing on St. Patrick’s Day weekend,” the Murphys wrote on their website. “The current world situation is the only thing that would ever stop us from doing so… so we came up with an idea we’re going to pull off this Tuesday. You’ll be able to watch it on our YouTube, Instagram and Facebook Live.”
There’s no telling how long the virus will keep music venues closed in Maine and elsewhere. That probably means more musicians will take to the internet in an effort to stay sane, and financially afloat.
“Let’s do this again — later this afternoon,” Caswell said, before signing off after an hour of playing.