Matt Thrift

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — While the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the lives of most everyone, one group has been particularly affected: musicians.

Performing live has become a way that the overwhelming majority of musicians make money and many of them are feeling the financial and artistic consequences of being forced off the road.

Rock Hill-based producer and musician Sam Booth, who performs with the Texas-based Christian band The Gladsome Light and up-and-coming country artist Kameron Marlowe, said some of his tour dates were abruptly cancelled right as the lockdowns started.

“We were getting set with Kameron Marlowe to go out on a little run in California and Nevada back in March. We were going to open for Travis Tritt and Lynyrd Skynyrd,” Booth said. “We actually got the call from management the night before we were going to fly out from Nashville that ‘nevermind, Lynyrd Skynyrd pulled out, we’re not going.’ From there it was a whirlwind.”

By March 16, “it was pretty clear that things were not getting back to the usual,” he said.

“We started off thinking, ‘okay, well maybe the month of March, we’ll write that off, maybe mid-April things will be back in. But we saw over the course of the spring, every festival, every live event, any appearances we would have made, those all got cancelled. By the summer, everything for the rest of the year was off the books, too…it’s been a bummer (because) this was supposed to be a great year for a lot of people.”

Booth Podcast
Sam Booth, a Rock Hill-based musician, joined Matt Thrift on the Palmetto Report podcast to discuss changes in the music scene due to the COVID-19 pandemic (photo: Joseph Kasko).

Although musicians have taken a direct hit in terms of touring, Booth said there are still opportunities in the music world.

“On the recording side of things, there’s actually more work in some ways because you can record at home. People are more than happy to have you send them things,” Booth said of the session work he has been doing remotely during COVID-19.

Touring was effectively grounded to a halt over the course of the spring and much of the summer, but Booth said it’s slowly picking back up. He said he has had the opportunity to play two shows recently and expects regular touring to resume by the summer of next year.

Booth appeared on the Palmetto Report podcast to discuss this and a number of other music-related topics. You can also hear excerpts of songs by The Gladsome Light and Kameron Marlowe, which Booth played bass guitar on.