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When will live music return to our pubs once they've reopened?

The dangers of coronavirus mean there’s a question mark over the return of live music any time soon. As we look forward to a return to our pubs, it's clear they’ll be a squeaky clean, social distanced version of their former selves.

So where does that leave live music in our pubs?

Pubs, regulars and musicians want to see live music back in pubs soon when they reopen
Pubs, regulars and musicians want to see live music back in pubs soon when they reopen

For one of the county’s busiest live music pub venues, the Lighthouse in Deal, it could be an impossibility for live music to return while social distancing continues.

David Hatton from the pub said: “We are generally optimistic that things can get back to relative normality.

“However, in the short term, we don’t think it will be viable to host shows as long as social distancing measures are in still place.

“To abide by a distancing rule, our capacity would be drastically reduced.

“If you then consider band fees, technicians, bar staff and other overheads, it’s easy to see how we’d be running at a considerable loss. The same will be true for the majority or grassroots venues up and down the country.”

At the White Lion at Selling, the pub has supported its regular acts in lockdown by live-streaming gigs on its Facebook page.

Karen, from the pub, said: “We do think that with careful management, we can continue events either in the garden or the function room.

We want to get back to pubs - with their live music
We want to get back to pubs - with their live music

“They would be quite different to usual as we’d have to monitor numbers carefully, ask people to remain seated and probably we would need people to book in advance but we believe a good event for everyone will be possible at the White Lion very soon.

“Much as we wish to continue with all our live events, the financial viability has to be taken into account - with less people attending the costs need to reduce but we are equally aware that the artists deserve to be appropriately renumerated - it’s a fine balance and needs discussion between everyone involved.”

Dayzee Potter, director of the Moondance Bar in Rochester High Street added: “We are planning our return with live music almost as soon as we can open again.

“Sadly, the way we offer it will likely have to change and it may need to be that entry is paid in order to cover the cost of live music but we certainly will be keeping it going as that’s what we’ve always been about and definitely want to keep it that way.”

Singer songwriter Chris Hunter
Singer songwriter Chris Hunter

Guitarist and singer Chris Hunter, from Ditton, gives his view.

"Gone are the days of getting up to sing at an open mic night and smelling what the last singer had to drink or smoke all over the microphone. If such events ever return to the pubs then they’ll surely be sanitised down to the last semiquaver. Which is surely a good thing isn’t it?

Well maybe, but I miss them, and for the time being there’s no sign of pub gigs and open mics at all, which means there’s virtually no stage available in the country to play on…. unless you’re into virtual online stages, or you’re an old bluesman with a rocking chair on a big porch.


I’m not either of those, although I’m probably closer to the latter – having played pub gigs with bands and as a singer-songwriter for about 20 years. Coronavirus has had a far worse impact on many other lives, but it’s weird losing that creative outlet. The term pub band might be sometimes used in a derisory way but the fact is pretty much every British band that’s existed, large and small, has been a pub band, and some of the biggest – like that Dartford band The Rolling Stones - have never lost the barroom vibe. Pubs are the grass roots of the music industry and without them the world of live music is pretty barren. And so is our culture as whole.

Britain doesn’t rule the waves like it used to – which is a good thing – but our music has ruled the airwaves, which is probably because we’ve had the best places for musicians to get up and play and meet in an informal environment. Oh, and the pints as well, they were pretty nice and seemed to make everything sound better. I miss them too!"

Read about our campaign supporting pubs, Love Your Local, here.

To see which pubs are being supported by Love Your Local click here.

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