Dave Kellan, a relative newbie to Long Beach, found his bit of heaven on the barrier beach picking his guitar at Swingbelly's, Cabana, Speakeasy, and other hot spots, fulfilling his dream of working as a professional musician.
On good weeks in the spring and summer, Kellan, now 40, would bring in about $1,000 a week or more. "I would do sometimes three gigs a night," he said earlier this week.
Then came the coronavirus.
Kellan, born and raised in Midland, Mich., came to Long Beach in 2013. He has not had a live gig since March 14, just as the virus was beginning to demonstrate its evil power. Since, he has been making appearances on Facebook and other social media sites, but they don't pay anywhere near as much as the live gigs did.
Kellan and his wife, AnneMarie, 32, have a 17-month old daughter, Paisley Jane, and are expecting another baby in August. Paisley Jane was born with hearing problems and now has cochlear implants. The Kellan's were planning on buying a house, but those plans are now on hold.
AnneMarie is a teacher and runs some fitness classes, and so the couple perseveres, waiting for the virus to breathe its last and for the city to re-open. But when is uncertain. Much depends on meeting specific guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and adopted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. While some areas upstate meet those guidelines,. Long Island and New York City do not yet, the governor has said.
Kellan has played clubs and restaurants across the country and has released five full-length albums of original material. He is well-known on the Long Beach night-club and music circuit. His first album was released with the band "Garbucket."
He got into the business after winning the Mid-Michigan Idol from a Citadel/Epic Records contest in 2002, which led to him opening for various national acts.
"He rocks," said Luke Heneghan, owner of Bright Eye Beer Co., which opened in the winter on Park Avenue but has been closed since March.
"He played on our opening night," Feb. 21, Heneghan said. "He filled the house. If not the best musician in Long Beach, he's one of the best."
Businesses in Long Beach are anxious to open. The Long Beach Chamber of Commerce is eager to help and has surveyed local companies to get their ideas on what would be needed for them to open their doors.
Kellan, who studied music and song-writing in private lessons in Michigan, said he mostly learned to play and write "at the school of hard knocks." He plays rock, blues, folk, country and reggae.
As much as he misses his salary, Kellan said, "I miss the action and being with my friends. Even the owners of the clubs and restaurants were friends. We had some money saved up, so I am better off than most. But it is still all devastating."