One of the things that a lot of people are really missing during the coronavirus shutdown is live music. Not just the big tours that we missed this year like The Black Crowes, Foreigner, Def Leppard, and ZZ Top, but also just the local music scene at your local bar or smaller music venue.

One bar in Buffalo has challenged Governor Cuomo's restriction on live music. The current state guideline prohibits bars and music venues from charging money for live entertainment and it prohibits advertising for shows. The main thing that sets this guideline apart is the "ticketing or cover charge" aspect of the guideline and that's what the Sportsmen’s Tavern in Buffalo has challenged.

A New York State Supreme Court justice in Erie County struck down those guidelines today. Justice Frank Sedita ruled the bans on ticketing and advertising are unconstitutional, according to the article on The tavern owner has argued that the ban on advertising is an illegal abridgment of free speech. They also argue the ban on tickets or cover charges makes no sense since those can be used to limit crowds. In addition, there is already a state guideline on how many people they can have in an establishment. So it's like two rules for the same thing.

So, the big question is what does this mean for the music scene in the Capital Region. Well, maybe nothing, or everything. It sets a precedent that other bar and venue owners can point to and say, "The Supreme Court said it was okay in Buffalo so it should apply to the rest of the state."

I was in New Jersey last weekend and went to dinner with my family and there was a live band. It was all outside and we were social distancing, wearing masks, and really enjoying the live music. I'd forgotten how much I missed live music. Hopefully, this change in the guidelines will put our local musicians back to work and allow the Capital Region music scene to get going again.

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