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Local musicians hit hard by pandemic restrictions

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, few industries were affected as drastically as the live music industry. When pandemic-related restrictions started being put into place, everything regarding live music ground to a halt almost immediately.

Faith Hill Cooper manages Mutt & BC’s Bar & Grill in Picayune, and she is the lead singer in a band called Pour It On. The band plays a variety of music.

“We play oldies, new music and dance music,” Faith Hill Cooper said.

Faith Hill Cooper and her husband, Gary Cooper have managed a DJ business together for 20 years, and Gary plays drums in a band called Rock Kandy.

When the pandemic began causing live music events to be canceled, Faith Hill Cooper said, “It took our livelihood. It took the music away.”

She said they haven’t been able to play any shows for months.

“It’s detrimental,” Faith Hill Cooper said. “It just stopped everything.”

She hasn’t been able to play with her band since March.

“It’s really hard,” Faith Hill Cooper said. “Music brings people together. When you’re in a band, it’s like a family, so it’s like missing family members.”

She said many bands are playing live shows on Facebook to get through the pandemic.

“It changed the cycle of how music was taking off in the South,” Faith Hill Cooper said. “It’s like starting from scratch. The momentum dies when the music dies.”

Gary Cooper’s band, Rock Kandy is a rock cover band. They play 80s, 90s and hard rock music.

When the pandemic-related restrictions forced the band to stop having shows, they were forced to cancel many bookings.

“Everything changed,” Gary Cooper said. “It completely shut us down.”

Gary Cooper said he has played music his whole life almost every weekend, and he felt out of place when he was no longer able to play music with his band.

“I felt like a fish out of water,” Gary Cooper said. “It’s hard to explain.”

Gary Cooper said he thinks it will take a long time for the live music industry to get back on its feet.

“I hope all musicians can eventually get back to a sense of normalcy,” Gary Cooper said. “It’s going to be a shaky road.”

Gary Cooper’s band has an upcoming event, one of the first of its kind since the pandemic, in Picayune. It will be an outdoor show with a limited crowd, taking place on June 20 at Mutt & BC’s Bar & Grill.