In Wake of Ohio's Mass Gathering Ban, Cleveland's Smaller Music Venues Announce Schedule Changes but Hope to Remain Open

click to enlarge A sold out show featuring bluesman Christone "Kingfish" Ingram is one of several area concerts that has been postponed. - Courtesy of the Kent Stage
Courtesy of the Kent Stage
A sold out show featuring bluesman Christone "Kingfish" Ingram is one of several area concerts that has been postponed.
Earlier today, Governor Mike DeWine issued a ban on mass gatherings of 100 people or more. This obviously effects many of Cleveland’s mid-sized clubs, but there remains the possibility of hosting small concerts that attract crowds of 100 or fewer people or remaining open in come capacity while places like the Agora are now closed until further notice.

We’re optimistic, anyway, that that'll be the case.

The Beachland posted this notice on its Facebook page: “We are assessing the State of Ohio policy limiting events to 100 people... as of right now our events for tonight and tomorrow are NOT cancelled. This is a developing situation and we will communicate the status of shows as needed. Please be patient as we try to figure out shows and how we will be functioning over the next few weeks. Thank you for your patience and continued support.”

Saturday's concert featuring the Numbers Band (15-60-75) has been postponed, however, and will now take place on May 22.

Owner Cindy Barber posted about last night's tavern show on Facebook: "OK, this is our new world. 22 advance tickets sold, 4 showed. I totally get it. Thanks for not asking for refunds. These guys Kendall Street are great and are on the road with 70% door deal, so we can pay them something. But that does not bode well for the immediate future."

The sold out show scheduled for tonight at the Kent Stage with bluesman Christone "Kingfish" Ingram has been postponed, and Saturday's Robert Cray performance at the club has been pushed back to June 5. The venue staff is working as quickly as possible on rescheduled date for Kingfish. Current tickets will be honored for the rescheduled Cray date.

"We have been closely monitoring COVID-19 updates, and, as everyone knows, the situation continues to evolve hourly," says Kent Stage owner Tom Simpson in a press release. "We took these actions out of an abundance of caution for the safety of our customers, employees, artists and vendors."

The status of all other concerts at the Kent Stage will be updated on a day-to-day basis.

"We are deeply appreciative of the support and loyalty of our patrons, and we hope everyone stays safe and healthy," added Simpson.

Grog Shop owner Kathy Blackman says the Cleveland Heights music venue she owns will temporarily close due to coronavirus concerns.

“After careful consideration and much painful deliberation, I have decided to temporarily close the Grog Shop,” reads the press release from Blackman. “This decision was not made lightly, but I feel it is the best possible choice for my staff and the music community. Tonight will be our last event until late April or further notice.”

The B-Side, a bar and performance space located beneath the Grog Shop, will remain open.

“By design, The Grog Shop is set up to be a large open gathering space to enjoy live music and I do not think we can safely maintain crowds within the guidelines set forth,” Blackman says. “My staff is family and have all taken part in this decision and collectively we agree this is the prudent thing to do at this time given the circumstances.”

All online tickets to canceled events will be refunded within five to sevent business days. All tickets purchased at record stores or in person can be refunded at point of purchase. Blackman hopes to reschedule these shows for the summer and fall. Gift certificates will be available for purchase online.

“We appreciate everyone's patience with us as we try to navigate this ongoing situation,” says Blackman, who adds that the B-Side will take measures to “ensure that we are operating in a way the is the safest possible for our customers and staff.”

The Winchester Tavern in Lakewood hopes to remain open, though it will limit ticket sales.

Mahall’s, a small capacity club in Lakewood, has the same aspirations.

"As a hub of activity and entertainment, we understand that maintaining a clean and safe environment is the best possible method for preventing illness and ensuring customer and staff safety," reads a statement on its Facebook page. "These time-tested methods and skills have never been more relevant. We appreciate your understanding that, as a customer, your experience at Mahall’s may look different as we navigate through this time together. Plans may change with regard to live shows, parties and events. We will work with customers to reschedule changes as they arise."

The post continues to state that Mahall’s will remain open for business unless recommendations from the CDC or the local government change.

The Happy Dog, which usually just features bands on the weekends, aims to continue hosting concerts as well.

"We do plan to move ahead with upcoming events while abiding by state health recommendations," reads a message on its Facebook page. "While we know we are bound to have some cancellations, we are determined to move forward in a way that still allows us to safely support our musicians and staff."

Earlier this week, Bop Stop Director Gabe Pollack sent out a press release that stated the club will be closed until Thursday, March 19, because of coronavirus concerns.

"We encourage all of you to check out our website and Facebook page for all updates," Pollack says. "If a show is listed on either site, it is still happening. Bop Stop will continue to provide the greater Cleveland community with happiness and good music through this difficult time. We appreciate your understanding and hope that you will continue to support live music during the upcoming months. We know that many venues and performers are struggling and we are doing everything that we can to help. Over the next few weeks we will be live streaming some concerts (that will be closed to the public) with donation links to help raise money for the BOP STOP and for musicians. Stay tuned for more info. We also want to encourage all of you to purchase merchandise from your favorite artists as every little bit of added income can go a long way during this tough time."

The club has a no-refund policy but it does give credit towards future shows if a guest decides to stay at home for health reasons, and you can also request that your ticket purchase be a donation to the club, a 501(C3) organization.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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