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The Heat Beat: Returning to in-person gigs safely

By Jess Szabo, Arts Writer

By Jess Szabo, Arts Writer

Most editions of The Heat Beat focus on the music played on Phoenix Radio. Today, we are expanding our focus with one for all the local musicians who listen for inspiration, and those inspired to be musicians, DJs, or program hosts.

Use great caution when being alone with people you do not know well

Even if you create while alone, you probably meet up with a lot of other people in the course of your career. You communicate with strangers to schedule recording sessions, gigs, parties, and other events. Remember that no matter how friendly and accommodating everyone way come across, some people are safe to be around alone, and some are not. If you need to meet someone you have never met before in person,. try to ensure that the meeting occurs at your place of business or theirs, or arrange to meet at your favorite hangout, at least for the first meeting or two. Never go alone to a stranger’s home, or invite them to yours.

Have a safe contact

Anytime you are going to be meeting with someone you do not know, or expect to be gone alone for a long period of time, make sure someone you know and trust knows where you are going to be, what time the event starts and ends, and what time you expect to be home. It can be as simple as leaving a flier from your performance on the table where your roommate can see it, with a note that you will be back in three hours, or looking at your spouse and saying, “I’m DJing at a party until one in the morning, then coming straight home”. Keep your cell phone charged and take it with you in case you need to let them know of changed plans, or need them to pick you up or get you an Uber or Lyft ride.

Carefully check the background of photos before you post them online

That photo of the instrument or equipment you’re trying to sell may seem perfectly safe to post online, until you take a second look and realize someone could easily zoom in on the bulletin board in the background and read your address off the electric bill you pinned up there. Blur and crop any photo that reveals details that allow anyone who sees the photos to pinpoint exactly where you live. Don’t forget to check for reflections in mirrors and windows.

Have someone you trust watch your valuable items during a performance or presentation

Sure, most of the people where you regularly perform and/or hang out are great. They would never take anything of yours and they would always look out for you. But those people are all going to be paying attention to your performance. They would not notice if someone new came in. Prevent loss or theft by making sure your partner or friend is going to remain at your table to watch your bag, wallet, purse, and phone before you get onstage or go to warm up.

Never leave your food or drink unattended

We all have a bad habit of forgetting this one. It’s just too easy to set a drink down in the break area and walk over to talk to a friend. But it only takes a second to slip something into a drink. Make grabbing your cup or plate as automatic as making sure you have your bag or wallet with you when you move from place to place. If you need to go somewhere you can’t take food, like to the restroom or into a booth, have someone you know stay with it, or let the waitstaff or event host know you need to leave your table, and need to leave your coffee cup on the counter in their view.

Reach out to others if you need help

If you’re meeting with someone who begins to make you uncomfortable, or someone says something unsettling to you at a performance or event, talk to the event sponsor or business owner, or reach out to someone you know from past events or hanging out around town. Even if you can handle it, someone else may appreciate the warning.

These are just a few of the safety rules we all know, but often forget in the excitement of returning to in-person gigs and events. Keep playing, and keep looking out for each other.

Jess Szabo is a writing teacher, novelist, and writer for other artists from Utica. See more of her writing at

Utica Phoenix Staff
Utica Phoenix Staff
The Utica Phoenix is a publication of For The Good, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) in Utica, NY. The Phoenix is an independent newsmagazine covering local news, state news, community events, and more. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and also check out Utica Phoenix Radio at 95.5 FM/1550 AM, complete with Urban hits, morning talk shows, live DJs, and more.

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