What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Raleigh DJ and photographer team up to help live music venues re-emerge after COVID-19

Posted November 3, 2020 6:00 a.m. EST
Updated November 3, 2020 6:26 a.m. EST

Last March, as the pandemic led to many temporary business closings, local DJ Joe Bunn remembers the madness that local musical artists and live music venues faced. "All that we did here was reschedule and cancel events. That’s it," said Bunn.

He said there was no clue as to when work opportunities would return. He remembers being optimistic at first, but eventually, it seemed, all hope was crushed.

That was true not just for venue operators and performers, but also many vendors, technicians and security personnel. "The man at the end of the night that cleans up all the confetti is in the stadium, I mean, it’s so far reaching and sad and depressing," said Bunn.

Bunn became aware of a nationwide effort called "Save Our Stages" and called upon Richard Barlow, a professional photographer who often enjoys working concerts. Bunn wanted to team up with him to help raise awareness.

"I’m a photographer," said Barlow. "I’m always thinking via a lens and what am I going to do?" He and Bunn visited six closed live music venues in the Triangle. The shots put Bunn in different poses while standing in front of or inside of well known local music venues like The Ritz, Red Hat Amphitheater, Coastal Credit Union at Walnut Creek, the Lincoln Theater and DPAC in Durham.

Bunn chose to wear T-shirts of the bands that he remembers seeing in each venue. He says the venue sites were not only empty but also had signs of less maintenance. "There’s nobody there taking care of these places because they’ve all been laid off," said Bunn.

Darkness dominates one series of photographs at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theater. There was enough light on the stage to reveal Bunn posing in different ways.

Inside Durham’s DPAC, Bunn sat in the midst of an huge vacant sea of red seats and golden lights.

The hope is that these images lead many fans of the bands who perform to donate money and help preserve and support independent performance venues for the day when the music returns.

He’s convinced that there is a huge desire among music fans to return to the venues to enjoy live music.

"People are so tired of being cooped up. They are so tired of being alone. They want to get out there. They want to have a good time. They want to dance and sing," said Bunn.

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