For the past eight months, Joseph King’s performances have been confined to his bedroom. With the pandemic keeping live venues shuttered, musicians like King have had to get creative.
He’s been hosting a weekly livestream from his apartment -- which doesn’t help pay the bills.
“But I was able to put my Venmo account up on Instagram Live, and you know, make a couple bucks here and there,” King said. “People that felt bad for us starving musicians up here.”
But this night marks a milestone: King is playing his first live gig since February.
“I’m excited. It’ll be nice to sing into a microphone in a room with other people in it,” he said. “I used to do it all the time. Now it seems like a distant memory.”
The routine, of course, is still a familiar one. He’ll pack up his guitar, head out of his East Williamsburg apartment and catch a ride on the L train for the half-hour trip to a private club in Manhattan.
The next day, it’s back to his other job: managing a bar on the Lower East Side, which is what really pays the bills.
They are long days and nights. King gets there at about 3 p.m. to take inventory, do prep work and everything else that goes into getting the place ready before the first drink is even poured.
The customers start showing up at 4 p.m., when the bar officially opens. Most of the drinking happens outdoors, and business is rebounding, though still only about half of what it was pre-pandemic.
“We’re staying afloat,” he said. “We have high hopes that if people continue to be responsible, and we don’t have a huge surge and our governor and mayor decide to shut the city back down again, that pretty soon we’ll be back to normal, hopefully. Whatever that means – whatever normal is.”
Hopefully, it means more business at the bar -- and at his shows.