I sent a few questions to folks I know in the music industry to see how they’re adapting to the change and challenges of 2020. I’ll be sharing bits of the interviews in an article for the Piedmont Lifestyle Magazines, but the full responses were too important (educational, authentic) not to share in their entirety. I’ll be posting them here, on


The second interview in this series is with Dan Barrett, the guy who books music for Old Bust Head Brewing Company in Vint Hill, Virginia. Dan is also the drummer for a local cover band called Mandatory Recess. I met Dan when he booked me for the venue.

Maddi: What was it like booking music at Old Bust Head Brewing Company before the pandemic? What plans did you have for music at OBH in 2020?

Dan: Booking music at OBH pre-pandemic was pretty straight-forward. There is a thriving community of musicians in the area that continues to grow, so it was a matter of finding the music that was the right fit for our taproom. We were going to continue to have music on a weekly basis, bringing in musicians who we have worked with for quite some time, some we have just gotten to know, and bringing in some new faces that we haven’t had here before.

Maddi: How has the pandemic impacted music at OBH? How has the music-booking part of your job changed? How have y’all adapted?

Dan: Like most of our industry, with the shutdown we closed our taproom and moved to a 100% curbside pickup/delivery business model. Once we were able to reopen the taproom, we could begin to talk about how and when to bring back live music.

Some of the challenges we faced were: trying to figure out WHERE we could set up live music that would be safe and socially-distant from our customers, finding out which musicians were ready to start playing in public again, and reassessing our music budget in concert with our reduced capacity. We have a large, covered outdoor space so we have been able to have live music outside in a safe manner, but we are booking smaller groups, mostly solo and duo acts.  

We used to be able to provide a sound engineer to run live sound each weekend – this has become more difficult on a smaller budget. Fortunately, solo and duo acts don’t require the same level of complicated sound mixing as the larger bands.

Musicians at Old Bust Head now play outdoors in a large, covered outdoor area with room for social distancing.

Maddi: Any words on the importance of music to our community? Words on how OBH supports the music scene? 

Music is a vital part of our community, especially when you can find local musicians performing original music.  When you hear original music from someone who is from your area, you’re hearing the influences of the environment and culture that you are a part of, and it allows for a stronger connection and resonance on a personal level.  We work hard to find great musicians who can provide a good amount of original music. 

In addition to our weekly live music, we love providing our Open Mic Night each month to help promote the local music scene and to provide a venue for the development of the next generation of musicians, and for anyone who enjoys making music.  We work in a creative industry, and have the opportunity to help support other creative, talented people in our area, and we don’t take that lightly.

Final Words

Thanks to Dan for these candid responses. Support Old Bust Head Brewing Company by following them on social media. Then if you’re local to Northern Virginia, visit their website to place an order for curbside pickup or delivery.

From top left to bottom right: Dan Barrett in the studio on drums, the front of Old Bust Head Brewing Company, a local musician performing outdoors at OBH, and a masked bartender at OBH.

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