By Simone Goldstone | Soundcheck columnist
When Covid-19 barred live performances, local bands were hit hard. Pinch Me! Band, a five-piece ensemble cover band known for its decades-spanning range of songs, spent time thinking about how to make live performances safe and enjoyable again.
“It’s still extremely tight out there, but we want everybody to know there are still opportunities to play,” said Pinch Me! Band founding member and drummer Rick Allen.
Pinch Me! Band will bring back entertainment to locals with a charity show hosted by Campus JAX this Saturday, August 8.
Abiding by all safety and regulations for COVID-19, the event will be socially distanced and take place in the new Sunset Stage live outdoor dining area. The show will raise money for JAX Feed the Need, a charity that offers homeless shelter and frontline caregivers support by day.
While the show will be internationally live-streamed, it will give locals the rare chance to have some fun and attend an open air, in-person concert.
Both the band and Campus JAX want everyone to know that safety is the main priority. “Safety is the number one concern of all the patrons, and while all the rules are being applied, we’re not yet able to allow dancing,” said Allen. “So, we want you know, you will have to practice your core dancing in your seat,” he laughed.
Rick expects the future of COVID-19 entertainment will lean toward parking lot shows, with allotted spaces far enough apart that fans can start dancing again. “The new normal, at least for the summer, is going to be restaurant and club owners expanding into the parking lots,” he said.”
The tail end of summer might be saved yet, with club owners working on securing outdoor permits. ABC and the city are working to extend real estate to serve alcohol and food in the parking lots.
“There is a movement among cities to help the restaurant owners find some way through this,” said Allen.
Orange County will hopefully evade the shutdowns of iconic clubs that Los Angeles has suffered. This show is just one step to preserving Orange County entertainment.
Proof of the expansion outdoors, a second Pinch Me! Band show is booked for Bigshots in Lake Forest on August 14, which is good news as this concept expands throughout Orange County.
“There’s concern among the band members to make sure everybody stays healthy. We have guitar players coming in and out because they won’t play due to concerns about the virus. We want everyone to know we’re concerned too. While we all want to work, we have had to turn several shows down to be safe,” explained Allen.
Pinch Me! Band has been an icon on the local music scene since 2003. Playing songs by everyone from Elvis to Ariana Grande, there’s always at least one song for every member of the audience to enjoy. The wide spread of genres is what makes the band so unique – rather than most cover bands who focus on one decade or genre.
“We cross all the genres, and so we always put on a good show and make everybody happy. You never know what song is coming at you next,” said Allen. “When the audience hears songs that they have an emotional attachment to, whether they heard it on KROQ this morning or danced to it at their prom, that’s what keeps the band relevant.”
Priding themselves on never using backing tracks, Rick stresses that their live showmanship keeps every show fresh.
“With Pinch Me! what you see is what you get, played live, which allows for a better relationship with the audience and the ability to improvise.”
This mentality keeps each show fresh and exciting, and different from the last. The group’s mix of instruments including saxophone allows Pinch Me! to stand out from basic event cover bands. The group doesn’t offer smaller versions of the band, making booking a five-piece pretty tough in the pandemic era.
“We have day jobs, but it’s been devasting financially for the band dealing with this,” noted Allen. “We went from playing all the time to nothing. That’s a problem all musicians and the musical community has been dealing with.”
If anything, the long break from the stage has made the group all the more eager to play on Saturday.
“I miss making music. It’s a wonderful release, it keeps you sane in times like this. We are excited to get back out, perform live, entertain, and to make people happy.”
Tickets for the August 8 dinner show are sold out, but check with the venue for possible cancellations. To view a list of upcoming live shows at Campus JAX, visit www.CampusJax.com.
For more information on Pinch Me! Band, visit www.PinchMeBand.com.