This interview is part of a series discussing mandates, restrictions and censorship with musicians and music fans—read more of these interviews here.
Alan Mosley is the host of "It's Too Late with Alan Mosley" — a weekly late night show where he talks about current events, politics, economics, pop culture, and more. New episodes premiere at 9pm EST every Wednesday.
Our friends at Bon Aqua Computer Club are hosting the 4th Annual It's Too Late Live Show on June 4th in Bon Aqua, Tennessee. Come hang out with us!
Music For All: Can you share your experience working in events and the detrimental effects of government regulations and — I guess let's call it — the "lockdown culture" that followed?
Alan Mosley: On the surface, the era of lockdowns and mandates wasn't so severe in a place like Columbia, TN (just south of Nashville). While the big cities here (Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville) were holding on to their authoritarianism for dear life, practically the entire rest of the state either never enforced restrictions, or only did so in the mythical "15 Days to Slow the Spread" and immediately relented.
The one early experience with this was when some members of Columbia's finest showed up at the door of our studio to "remind" us that we were not to be hosting gatherings and that they expected to see all the lights off and the parking lot empty. That was quite the command; and here I was thinking the studio was our property and not theirs! We were coming off our best year of business in 2019, and early 2020 was shaping up to blow 2019 out of the water. Then, just like that, we were closed.
Sure, it was possible to reopen later that year, but for what customers? By the time we were able to reopen, our busy season was over, but that was only the beginning. Several annual events, charities, benefits, concerts, etc., some of which we provided A/V for, and other than I performed in, were gone. Gone, as in not just canceled for that year, but on permanent hiatus.
Likewise, very few private bookings we had earlier in the year rescheduled, either for the end of the year, or ever after. The tanking economy and rampant inflation destroyed people's disposable income, or worse. In any field that is adjacent to entertainment, this meant your business would be hit first and hit hardest.
While it's nice to see our area mostly free from the vestiges of pandemic hysteria, we are only just beginning to reckon with the profoundly negative economic impact that the last 2 years of government overreach has wrought. It's been rough times for us financially as we recover from our lost business, but my heart also goes out to our former customers who can no longer afford to celebrate their special occasions as they once did, and even more so for the volunteers and staff of nonprofits and community groups who saw their biggest fundraisers disappear, never to return.
We strongly believe live performance and socializing is a crucial aspect to our culture that can't be replaced by live streaming — though we do love your live streams, Alan. What has your experience been as the host of "It's Too Late with Alan Mosley" with in person events and community?
There is definitely a hierarchy to an audience's enthusiasm for a performance, with "pre-recorded" being at the bottom, followed by "live stream" somewhere in the middle, and of course "live and in person" being the peak.
At different times during the course of my 4.5 years of hosting "It's Too Late," we have pre-recorded some content while having some episodes be performed live and streamed in real time. Even in that limited scope, there is no mistaking that our fans much prefer the live streams to the pre-produced episodes. There's just something about knowing you're witnessing a performance as it happens and an appreciation for artists who can deliver the goods on a dime rather than with heavy-handed editing.
With that said, much of the live experience is enjoying it alongside your friends, family, or even strangers with whom your only commonality is fandom. With that said, the accomplishment I take the most pride since starting our program in September of 2017 is our annual live show. Once a year, starting with episodes 50, 100, and 150, we have had attendees from all over the country join us as our live studio audience for a taping of "It's Too Late."
Between dessert bars and roaring after-parties, our annual events have been the true "live" experience, with energy and camaraderie that a recording or even a livestream simply can't match. Following the struggles of 2020 and 2021, we seriously considered pulling the plug on doing an annual live show in 2022. The tipping point that pushed us to commit to "The 4th Annual It's Too Late Live Show" was having a powwow with our biggest supporters to ask what they thought.
The message we kept hearing from our fans was, "Knowing there's a date on the calendar where all of us have a good excuse to come together, like a family reunion, gives us something positive to look forward to, particularly now when it seems like it's just doom and gloom at every turn." After hearing that, I'm almost embarrassed with myself for coming so close to cancelling the event. It isn't about "the show," it's about the community.
The State has clearly been making some effort to suppress anti-establishment music and communities for quite a while now in a variety of ways. Is there a particular policy that stands out to you as where if we perhaps went in a different direction we would have never gotten where we are today?
The first thing that popped into my head was the massive amount of pork that was in the various monster spending bills, the various "stimulus packages" during the pandemic that added trillions of dollars to the national debt and contributed to the runaway inflation we're experiencing now.
On the surface, I could see how this wouldn't strike you as an explicit attempt to silence dissenting voices or marginalized communities, but when you dig into just how little of that money actually went to the average consumer versus the monumental portion that went to special interest, the picture becomes more clear.
As just one tiny example, the Kennedy Center received multiple appropriations for tens of millions of dollars. The Kennedy Center is already a public/private hybrid institution (meaning it's really just publicly guaranteed no matter what they produce), and yet in addition to their impressive annual budget, they were receiving huge cuts from these emergency stimulus bills.
Something we speak about regularly on our program is the seen and the unseen. What we see are politically connected special interest getting heaping helpings of stimulus cash that was sold as bailouts for struggling Americans. That's bad enough, but what about the unseen? The unseen is all of the small businesses, private venues, the little hole in the wall bar with a stage, the small town studio like that of yours truly, all of which didn't get a dime of that money while the Kennedy Center, General Motors, and the Los Angeles Lakers made out like bandits.
This is the government picking winners and losers; simple as that. The only concrete answer I can give you about how things could've been different is to say there should have never been any lockdowns or mandates whatsoever, a strategy that all the current data suggests was the logical thing to do, not to mention the ethical and moral problems with effectively telling a whole country, "your property is actually our property, all of yours rights come with conditions, and when we say you stay home and starve, then you stay home and starve."
Thank you for reading!
Watch the latest episode of "It's Too Late with Alan Mosley" here: