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Barrie band tapped to bring live music back to Muskoka this summer

'This is a test run. We’ll get this one done and work out any bugs and go from there,' says Clear Lake Brewing's events manager
2021-02-25 Clear Lake Brewing LJI
Clear Lake Brewing Co. has remained open during the pandemic for retail sales and small groups on the patio but Melissa Whittle, manager of groups and events, is ready to welcome a larger crowd for live music.

Live music and an ice-cold beer tend to go hand in hand, so Clear Lake Brewing Co. in Torrance is doing the work to bring concert-goers to a converted concert venue in its parking lot, as live entertainment events slowly return to Muskoka.

The Rob Watts Band, a Barrie-based country act, will hit the stage Friday, July 31, physically distanced from a 100-person crowd that will also take the same precautions. 

“It’s exciting that we’ve got the opportunity and the space to be one of the first places to do something like this,” said Melissa Whittle, manager of groups and events for the brewery. 

Working with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, the brewery will welcome guests to the ticketed event where beer will be served in cans, partitions will separate the public from bartenders and ticket sellers, and masked servers will roam the venue to discourage folks from lining up at the bar. 

“Communication is key with all of this,” said Whittle. “This is a test run. We’ll get this one done and work out any bugs and go from there.”

Live  music is a staple on the brewery’s patio on the weekends, but this event marks a return to the type of larger gathering COVID-19 has shut down in recent months. The nearby Kee to Bala has cancelled most of its summer shows scheduled this year. 

“These are the people helping our industry to survive right now by hosting these shows,” said Rob Watts. 

The band has had a long stretch of time off, greatly affecting morale and revenue, he explained. Before the pandemic, they played upward of 300 shows each year.

“We’re just excited to get back to what is normal for us, which is performing,” he said.

The brewery is eager for a return to how things were before the pandemic, too. More events are planned, including an Aug. 29 Practically Hip show.

“The world is getting kind of bored,” said Whittle. “We need to have some kind of normalcy.”

Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative,