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The Clubhouse Streams Along

After COVID-19 put a temporary end to their live events, an up-and-coming Toms River music venue has moved their operations completely to social media, in cooperation with Governor Phil Murphy’s social distancing executive order. Jimmy Mura, Director of The Clubhouse of Toms River, has gone to great lengths to produce online content for the community during a time where live music events pose a public health concern.

“We had a couple sessions from our YouTube series “The Clubhouse Hangouts” saved up. These are high quality live sessions and interviews we do with bands,” said Mura. “People seem to respond well to those.” The latest installment of The Clubhouse Hangouts, featuring Asbury Park-based alternative punk outfit America Part Two, is now available to stream on The Clubhouse’s YouTube account. According to Mura, there have also been talks of launching a podcast bands can be interviewed remotely.

The venue has also been holding numerous “Instagram Takeovers,” where a band is provided with The Clubhouse’s login credentials and is permitted to post whatever content they see fit.

“We are having a different band take over the account every day,” said Clubhouse board member and doorman Matthew Christopher. “They host Q&A’s, perform live sessions, and talk about how they are handling the quarantine.” The Clubhouse is secure with alternative content for the time being, but like all organizations and establishments, COVID-19 has posed a financial threat. Fortunately, the Clubhouse team is keeping a level head.

“It hasn’t been great; we do depend on regular shows to keep the lights on. We’re lucky enough to run a pretty low-cost operation, so we’re fine for now. It really just depends on how

long this will last,” said Mura. For the Clubhouse, the pandemic couldn’t have struck at a more imperfect time.

“March was going to kick off a golden age of shows for us that was going to last into June,” said Christopher. Prior to the flood of event cancellations, the Clubhouse had announced a multitude of shows featuring notable touring acts from the tri-state area; Carousel Kings, The Ones You Forgot, and Slaughter Beach, Dog were some of the acts scheduled to perform. Concern about the outbreak affecting the venue’s operations took form early last month.

“We were keeping an eye on it in early March, especially when South by Southwest Festival got cancelled,” said Mura. Initially, Clubhouse staff thought the virus would only affect larger venues, according to Mura. “That proved to be untrue. Around March 10th a lot of touring bands started dropping off shows and we knew March wasn’t going to be sustainable,” said Mura. The Clubhouse hopes to maintain the momentum they had accumulated when public gatherings are once again deemed safe.

“We were at this point where we were really being taken seriously in the local music scene,” said Christopher, who was looking forward to the higher-profile spring shows bringing more publicity to the Toms River venue.

According to Christopher, the biggest thing people in the community can do to support The Clubhouse is to not forget about them when the pandemic lifts. “I really hope that when we come back, it’s like we never left. I hope local and touring bands still want to play and I hope we get to put on some of these big shows that we were preparing for,” said Christopher, who hopes The Clubhouse will remain a beacon of life for the local music scene.

“I really miss the community that developed around the Clubhouse,” said Christopher. “The regulars that came to all the shows, the bands that seemed to play once a month; I miss seeing all those people.”