Last July, Crepe Place owner Chuck Platt—known to many locals as the longtime bassist for Good Riddance—wanted to throw a socially distanced concert at his venue.
He asked local musician Joe Kaplow, who used to occasionally do sound for shows, if he was interested in playing some acoustic songs on the back patio, and Kaplow was into the idea.
Platt did everything he could to make sure the event was safe. He instructed people to only come with people that were in their pods, to wear masks, and to not go up to people at the event that were not in their pod. Everything was all set up, with ticket sales getting donated to charity.
Everything went great, but near the end of the event, he noticed that after people had a few drinks in them, some were getting lax with the rules. It wasn’t a big deal, but he could see that to make sure that live music stayed safe, it was going to take a lot of diligence—and if the music wasn’t mellow, it probably wouldn’t work. The Crepe Place is now seating people for outdoor dining again, but other than a few nights with a DJ spinning tunes, the venue hasn’t done a show since.
“[There were] people kneeling down by tables and pulling their mask down to talk. I had to police it, like tap them on the shoulder. ‘Hey, go back to your table,’” Platt says. After that one I was like, ‘I should probably stop here and see where we’re heading with the pandemic.’ Then things started to get worse.”
Covid-19 infections rates shot up during the winter months. But now, in 2021, things are a little different. Rates are still high, but they are on the decline. And with the vaccine rollout underway, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the return of live music. Recently, Platt has been getting calls from bands and booking agents wanting to book shows this summer and fall. If all goes well, he might even start doing outdoor socially distant shows on the back patio by the end of spring.
“The next couple months are going to be crucial with everything. The vaccines, just everything in general. Let’s hope the numbers go down. We’ll see what happens,” Platt says.
It’s hard to predict anything, but if Platt is comfortable doing the patio shows, and conditions continue to get better, he might do indoor shows in the fall. Of course, infection numbers dictate when these things will actually take place. But he’s already doing the legwork for possible shows in September.
“I just sort of just pencil it in. I’m optimistic on what’s gonna happen with live shows. It eases my tension a little bit to write something in the book. There’s a little light at the end of the tunnel. I’m good with that. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. But who knows?” Platt says.
When indoor shows are back, people can expect a little different experience at the Crepe Place. In 2020, during the first few months of the pandemic, Platt decided to take advantage of lockdown by redoing the sound system with a brand-new board, monitors, and some microphones. He also built a small, 7-inch-tall stage to elevate the bands, rather than continue having them play on the floor.
“I’m not happy that the pandemic happened. But I would never have that time to do that if we were open six to seven days a week with five shows. The sound equipment was really old. ‘Let’s take care of it.’ That’s it,” Platt says.
He’s also hoping to keep the back patio shows going as well. His vision is to have acoustic performance or DJs playing on the patio, while bands play on the stage.
“The outdoor show [we did], it was so good. So many smiles. People laughed. Even the band, they were so stoked. It felt so good. I’d love to get back to that. I’d start off incredibly slow. I’d probably do want one a month and see how it goes with numbers,” Platt says.
The Crepe Place,1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. 831-429-6994, thecrepeplace.com.