WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Many people around the nation are joining an effort to help save independent music venues affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Save Our Stage movement has the attention of U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Amy Klobuchar. They introduced a bill that would provide $10 billion in grants to independent clubs and stages if passed.
“It a predicament that we never were prepared for, we never could prepare for,” Iron Horse Pub co-owner Danny Ahern said.
Local musician Ryan Hager’s first live band performance was on the Iron Horse Pub stage nearly 20 years ago.
“You know these are institutions for us,” Hager said. “[To have them] kind of fall by the wayside has been pretty disheartening.”
Hit by hard times all over, music venues, like Iron Horse Pub in downtown Wichita Falls, and local musicians have a unique struggle ahead of them.
“I don’t think there’s any industry like us,” Ahren said. “[We were] the first to be shut down and most likely the last to be opened back up. So we’re in a very vulnerable situation. We just want a little bit of help and understanding.”
In June, Texas Governor Greg Abbott shut down bars and it’s unclear when they will be able to serve customers again.
“That just seems really unfair,” said local musician Dusty Potter. “These people are family to a lot of us and it’s hard to see your family hurting.”
While local artists, like Potter, continue to see music venues remain empty until further notice, the co-owner of Iron Horse Pub is hopeful the bipartisan Save Our Stages Act and the Restart Act aimed to help these venues will be successful in Congress.
“We have a broad economic impact, you know,” Ahern said. “A lot of our musicians stay at local hotels. Employees depend on their paychecks and the musicians depend on their income, too. It’s a very broad scale so to enable that in any small faction would be a great thing.”
However, when they do get back, Ahren said the Pub and local acts will be more than ready.
“I tell you, we’re not going to take a crowd for granted in the future,” Potter said. “It’s just a big part of our lives that’s missing.”