Music professor stays positive amidst gig cancellations

Mia Borders, a New Orleans native and Loyola music professor, lost out on her favorite gig in 2021 after Jazz Fest was canceled and the delta variant of COVID-19 raged nationwide.

Border, like many other local musicians, lost many gigs during the pandemic, and with festival cancellations and Hurricane Ida setting things back, she hopes musicians are taking care of themselves during this period of time that she called a “loss of momentum.”

The use of permits that the city requires for most live entertainment in the city is hindering performers and venues alike, Borders said. The multiple restrictions affect those who rely on their performances for income.

“It’s just, why are you trying to make it more difficult for people to work? And we’re such an important part of this city,” Borders said.

Borders was looking forward to her eight piece band Jazz Fest gig, which she called her “New Year’s Day.” She said she’d love to recreate it “somehow somewhere,” especially considering it was also cancelled at Jazz Fest 2020. The year before, in 2019, musicians were pulled off the stage because of bad weather, Borders said.

Though COVID-19 and quarantine were difficult for musicians, Borders said the time has been more of a pause than anything for her. She said it gave her ample time to focus on self-care rather than be preoccupied with the production of music.

“I had a guitarist who’s putting out a record every two weeks and I’m just like ‘Dude, chill out!’ like, ‘have you checked out Netflix lately?’” Borders said.

While Hurricane Ida brought another round of cancellations for events and festivals where most of New Orleans local musicians thrive, Borders hopes that most New Orleans musicians won’t fall into the trap of working for free post-quarantine.

Borders said she hopes musicians are valued and taken care of as many get back to work.
Her outlook on the New Orleans music scene during COVID-19 is hopeful, though Borders said there are “holes” within the industry, adding that she wished musicians were better supported.

“I think that we, as an industry, should be better equipped to leverage our worth and to establish ourselves as what we are, which is a huge part of the city of New Orleans,” Borders said.