The Rochester Music Hall of Fame class of 2020 is on hold once again.
Last year’s induction ceremony and concert was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic and had been rescheduled for April 25.
“Right now, obviously, we can’t have it in April because of the protocols,” says Hall of Fame President Jack Whittier. “I think right now the number of people we can have at the Eastman Theatre is 150, that obviously doesn’t work for us.”
Indeed, the event has drawn near sellouts for each of its first eight years in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. The inductees on hold are local folk icons The Dady Brothers; Michael Laiacona, founder of Greece-based live-music technology provider Whirlwind; jazz singer Nancy Kelly; jazz drummer and percussionist Roy McCurdy; and Grammy-winning producer Mick Guzauski.
“We’re playing the waiting game, like everyone else, it seems,” Whittier says. “The challenge we have, I think — and it’s not a unique one, but it’s our challenge, too — is that as we get everybody vaccinated, I think there’s going to be a segment of people that are really looking forward to going out and going to live music and live events. And there’s also going to be a segment of people that are probably going to take it a little slower.”
The Hall of Fame board will meet in a couple of weeks to discuss its options. Inducting the newest class in the fall, to make room for an entirely new set of inductees for 2022, is a possibility. As is simply making the class of 2020 wait yet another year. It’s a balance of properly honoring the inductees and heeding the concerns of the audience.
“We’re going to have to figure out what is the mindset of the people,” Whittier says.
Some high-profile events set for this year have already fallen by the COVID-19 wayside. The GrassRoots Music and Dance Festival in Trumansburg said last week that it will not be happening this summer. Other events have announced adjustments. The Lilac Festival will be three weekends of three days each, with no live music. The CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival plans on moving to an outdoor show on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus.
“For events like ours and so many others around town, it’s a real wild card,” Whittier says. “We really don’t know. We don’t know what people are gonna be comfortable with.”