SOhO Restaurant & Music Club is putting some signed music memorabilia up for auction on April 20 to raise money for its employees who have been out of work without pay since the venue shut its doors due to COVID-19 after March 13, the last time SOhO hosted a show.
Acquired by community donations given during SOhO’s 20th and 25th anniversary concerts and signed by famous locally-based musicians, the auctioned items include a Jasmine acoustic guitar signed by Alan Parsons, an Eastman acoustic guitar signed by Jeff Bridges, a drumhead signed by David Crosby, a metronome signed by Kenny Loggins, and a Telecaster electric guitar signed and formerly owned by Depeche Mode guitarist Martin Gore.
In an interview with the News-Press, SOhO Co-Owner Gail Hansen stated that her venue was long considering what exactly to do with these items since receiving them. When SOhO closed its doors over a month ago due to the pandemic, the club was suddenly left searching for ways to get money to pay for its expenses and staff.
“We’ve just been sitting on them and we thought, ‘Oh my God, this is the perfect time to bring them out,’” she recalled.
Even in a best-case scenario in which group gathering restrictions are lifted and music venues are allowed to go forth with scheduled performances during the month of June, Ms. Hansen doubts that such a situation would be of much help. SOhO’s concerts for April and May have been cancelled and despite the venue’s website still listing a few shows for June, as well as the summer and fall months, she anticipates it’s probable that those acts will withdraw from those dates. That would likely mean that no further concerts will be held at SOhO for the remainder of 2020, as getting replacement touring acts to substitute for the cancelled gigs is impossible while the pandemic is still a concern.
“Everyone’s just on hold,” Ms. Hansen said. “Nobody wants to put together a tour just to cancel it.”
If SOhO is allowed to reopen and finds its remaining calendar of events wiped clean, Ms. Hansen is hopeful that some bands based in Santa Barbara will fill a few of the vacant dates.
“My next shows aren’t until 2021 pretty much. I am really hoping that a lot of local musicians and bands will want to play when we do get to open our doors,” Ms. Hansen said.
In the meantime, SOhO has applied for a number of small business aid programs including the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, but hasn’t yet heard back from them. Calling the state of limbo in which SOhO finds itself a “waiting game,” Ms. Hansen remarked that while the closure has given her an opportunity to take care of certain housekeeping items that tend to fall through the cracks when the club is busy, seeing the once lively venue devoid of activity is a painful sight.
“I am using the time to get caught up on filing, cleaning the club, etc. It’s so sad to see it empty. I am so used to it being full of music, wonderful people, and joy,” she said.
SOhO’s silent online auction can be accessed at 32auctions.com/sohocovid19auction. The auction will run from April 20 to May 15.