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Basslines and Protest Signs

Basslines and Protest Signs Part 91: Vaxx Up or Shut Up

This week, none other than Tracii Guns, of the Sunset Strip rockers LA Guns, said his band would be canceling the remaining dates of their current tour because fans aren’t sticking to the masking requirements. Now, hearing such an intelligent statement from a veteran hair metal guitarist might shock anyone with passing knowledge of Guns. But he’s always been more than leather pants and big hair, and his stance on this is absolutely correct.

The Omicron variant of COVID is raging through the country and, while experts seem to agree that the symptoms are generally milder than with other strains, the fact that it is more contagious means that more people are catching it and, rule of averages, many people are getting sick because of it.

We thought this thing was nearly over when Delta hit. Omicron has been another gut punch. We really need to get used to the fact that, even when the numbers plateau, this thing will be endemic, meaning it ain’t going away. We’ll likely need annual shots, and for some time to come, masks in venues should be mandated. Proof of vaccination too. None of this “proof of vaccination OR negative test” stuff, with the rare exception of people who genuinely – really fucking genuinely – can’t have the vaccine for medical reasons.

The naysayers will weep, of course. They’ll call the vaccinated “sheep” and compare vaccination mandates to nazi Germany because, well, they’re fucking idiots. You can’t account for that level of stupidity – you can only call for laws that don’t allow their ignorance to hurt the people who are doing the right thing. 

Eddie Spaghetti, of rock & roll vets The Supersuckers, told us he wouldn’t feel comfortable performing in venues that don’t require proof of COVID vaccine and masking:

“No. Because I’m not an idiot,” he said. “I don’t feel comfortable in the ones that DO require it. This unease has just become a way of life. It’s not ideal. We just deal with it.”

New wave icon Josie Cotton agreed. “No way. Yeah, I think I’m gonna trust the scientists on this one… you know, people with PhDs who have dedicated their whole life to researching the world pandemic. They all knew this was coming.”

Christian Gisborne of L.A.’s Velvet Starlings sees it differently:

“Yes, we are comfortable playing in venues that don’t require vaccines or masking,” he said. “After all, there’s a reason there were tons of progressive bands who came to Southern California in 2021, skipped LA, and played Orange County. For the record, we are vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID testing and PCR tests seem to be much more effective in stopping the spread, as you can be fully vaccinated and spread COVID just as easily as anyone else who isn’t.”

That’s flawed logic but at least the band members are vaccinated. Both rapper Nez and Glass Animals man Dave Bayley recently told this writer they’re planning on touring this year but it’s important that everyone stays safe.

Common sense, right? You’d think so.

Perpetual goon Eric Clapton responded to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that vaccines would be required to enter venues in the UK by posting:

“Following the PM’s announcement on Monday the 19th of July 2021 I feel honor-bound to make an announcement of my own. I wish to say that I will not perform on any stage where there is a discriminated audience present. Unless there is provision made for all people to attend, I reserve the right to cancel the show.”

Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland is a lot smarter than Clapton, saying in the Associated Press that, “We can’t force anyone to get a vaccine. But we do have the right to say, ‘OK, if you don’t have it, then you can’t come because that is dangerous.’ It’s not a character judgment that’s being made. It’s a matter of fact.”

But the demographics of country music can be cause for concern, and Travis Tritt made a Travis Tit of himself when he said, “I have always been a huge defender of basic human rights and liberty for all. No government, employer, or private entity should ever be allowed to infringe on those rights and liberties. I’m also very much against discrimination of any kind. All forms of discrimination need to be called out and condemned in the strongest terms possible.”

The merest suggestion that requiring people to be safe at work and to respect the safety of others is discrimination on par with racism, sexism or homophobia is moronic to a degree that would be startling if we hadn’t already heard similarly ridiculous suggestions all over the internet and TV.

P!nk is absolutely in favor of California vaccine laws, posting: “To anyone participating in the ‘state wide walk out’ in opposition to vaccine mandates…. Where were you when they made us start wearing seatbelts and not having polio???? Late to the party!!!! #keepingkidssafesinceforever #dontwantmeaslesneither.”

Writing for Complex.com, Andre Gee spoke of “rap’s complicated relationship with COVID mandates and vaccines.”

“‘COVID can suck a dick,’ Busta Rhymes said onstage in June, voicing the valid frustrations of millions who have lost loved ones and had their lives upended amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He could have stopped there — but then he kept going: ‘All these little weird policies and government mandates, suck a dick.’”

Gee also pointed out that Rhymes referred to quarantine as “re-enslavement” on L.A.’s 92.3 The Cruz Show (nothing to do with Ted Cruz). 

“Everybody gotta be responsible,” Rhymes said. “But I never knew when it was a time in life where politics dictated [how] our wellness and self-preservation should be. End of the day, we leave that to the medical department, to science, and to our own instinctual and intellectual selves to be able to know how to take care of ourselves.“

But here’s the thing, if musicians such as Travis Tritt, Eric Clapton, and Christian Gisborne feel that vaccination mandates at concerts aren’t necessary, or that the risk of COVID is being exaggerated, then that’s exactly why the mandates are necessary. The people doing the right thing should be protected. 

After all, you don’t want to be like Hana Horka, the anti-vaxx Czech folk singer who caught COVID deliberately and then died. Do you?

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