For almost two months, Houston's nightlife has been at a standstill. With shows cancelled and bars shut down, many local musicians have been left in a holding pattern with no gigs and no income. And while some in the community have come together to support the music scene, many people are still waiting for life to get back to normal. Whatever the new normal will be.
Near the beginning of the shut down, we spoke to Houston's music scene about what was happening. But so much has changed since then. The world's changed. Houston's changed. We've changed. So, we reached out to six different local artists to see how they're coping with it all.
"I really miss my friends, regulars, and fellow musicians," Davis says. "Being social in-person is so much better that interacting on social media. I'm ready to get back to work as soon as it's safe for everyone."
Davis is taking advantage of this downtime to complete writing and recording a new EP. "Sometimes I wake up middle of the night and can't go back to sleep," Davis explains.
Full-time DJ and show promoter of The Vibes HTX concert series
Brown has been DJing for 17 years, and all of his live shows and gigs have been cancelled or postponed. Currently he is using this downtime to edit, produce, and release multiple seasons of pre-recorded DJ sets, both of himself and other local DJs. He has two years of content in the vault, hoping for a June release.
"As long as I'm alive and able to think, I can figure out a solution,” he says. “I need to make this work for myself and my son. I don't have the luxury to be bored—no time to dwell on the negative."
Studio and touring musician
A self-proclaimed "Music-Preneur," Johnson has never gone a week without a gig in the past 20 years until now. "All my gigs were either cancelled or postponed,” he says. “To cope I am doing online bass lessons, Facebook Live shows, recording bass tracks, producing artists, marketing my recordings, and filling out every artist financial assistance application I come across. I've only received one set of funds so far."
His advice? "Diligence, patience, and faith in God is the main way."
Vocals and guitar for the Psychedelic rock band Cactus Flowers, bartender at Little Dipper
The band's debut album, INCANTATIONS, was released in December. Their plans for a promo tour through LA, Marfa, New Orleans, Oklahoma, and SXSW were cancelled. But, as with many bands, they are learning how to transition performances to Livestream.
"Many musicians also earn a living working in bars and restaurants,” she says. “Now both industries are at a standstill, which means zero income. It can be difficult to be creative right now, but I'm working hard to stay positive and navigate this new reality."
She fears that many restaurants and other businesses that are closed now might not reopen after all of this. Murillo says she is grateful for organizations, such as Houston Shift Meals, that help out industry workers with food needs. She's also applied for a MusicCares grant and assistance from the US Bartenders Guild.
Trombone player with The Suffers
Razo says he misses being together in the studio and on the road with his band, The Suffers. All of the band’s tour dates and festival appearances have been cancelled. They were working on a new album, and that's been put on hold too. He is worried there might not be live concerts again until next year.
But Razo is still trying to lift people's spirits through livestreams and social media interactions. Donations come in through the "virtual tip jar" and is split with the band, which he says definitely helps buy groceries and pay rent.
"This is like a long-ass hurricane, except we don't know when it will end,” he says. “I just try to keep my head clear by walking around my neighborhood (the City of South Houston), taking photos, and semi-adopting a stray street dog. I look forward to sitting down for coffee or a meal with everyone in-person after all of this."
Razo has also started a new podcast called Bonetown: A Podcast About Nothing... but Trombones—available on Youtube.
Electric and upright bass guitarist
Gaitan was supposed to be in Europe touring with Nikki Hill this spring. He also had a show in South America that was cancelled, and more Europe dates in the summer and fall. Meanwhile all local gigs have been cancelled so he’s been relying on his other skill sets to survive. Currently, he's working handyman gigs and mechanic jobs. "As soon as I announced to people what skills I had outside of music, right away I worked for two weeks straight,” he says. “That's the hustling mentality of being from Houston."
He also partnered with Discovery Green for a live-streaming event at the end of March, which provided some income. "The whole situation bums me out, but I'm trying to stay positive and keep moving forward," he said. "You can stop people from performing live, but you can't stop them from being creative!"