CINCINNATI — While everyone in Greater Cincinnati is affected by the efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus, some are feeling the impact of those measures sooner than others.
"This is how I make my living," said Brad Martin, a musician who has performed in Cincinnati for 11 years. "I play between eight and five gigs a week, depending on time of year."
His income came to a halt Sunday after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all bars closed for the foreseeable future. DeWine issued the ban to prevent large groups from gathering and potentially spreading the virus.
"This week I had seven gigs," Martin said. "It’s hard telling if I even qualify for unemployment. There’s no guarantee."
The musician said he understands bar, brewery and restaurant owners are scrambling to make ends meet, too. That's why he was flattered when Danny Scott, the owner of Energy Night Club in Longworth Hall and the Fishbowl at the Banks, called him Monday to propose a livestream of musical performances once a week from inside the now-empty Fishbowl.
"His bar is closed as well,” Martin said. “He’s not making any money. We’re all in the same boat."
Scott said he was driving to the Fishbowl to close it after news of the bar ban broke when the idea hit him.
Up until this week, the Fishbowl regularly featured acoustical sets and DJs, including Martin, each Thursday evening, Scott said.
"A lot of those guys are now out of work," he said. "I don’t think there’s much relief for them. It’s just a little something we can do for them."
Scott has scheduled a different musician to perform in the Fishbowl at 5 p.m. each Tuesday for the foreseeable future.
"I guess it’s just part of life," Scott said of the performances that will stream on Fishbowl's Facebook and Instagram accounts. "We're looking forward to the future and using this time to learn and grow."
Martin said he always has treated his musical career as a small business: "I have a good savings account, but I really don't want to dip too far into it.
"We know that sometimes we are put on the back burner," Martin added of himself and other working musicians during times of crisis. "But I have a son. He's 17 years old. There’s still food to be put on the table. I’ve got to pay my rent."
Martin said he planned to use his livestream performance to help others find escape.
"These are the times people need a little escapism," he said. “If that comes through your laptop, let’s do it, man."
He also hopes viewers might reward him for his streaming performance and has set up PayPal and Venmo money transfer accounts for online donations.
"People can send a few bucks for song requests," he said.
And if people cannot, he understands that, too.
"When the money flow stops it stops for all of us," Martin said. "I would love to help everybody. I don’t know what to do."
For more information about the Fishbowl's live stream visit the Fishbowl's Facebook page.