July 30, 2015 - Alpharetta, Ga: The Velvet Note general manager Tamara Fuller stands in front of the The Velvet Note Thursday, July 30, 2015, in Alpharetta, Ga. This is for a live music story for Living Northside. PHOTO / JASON GETZ
Credit: Jason Getz
Credit: Jason Getz
Fuller’s Velvet Note is a smaller establishment that usually employed six people, which she laid off after Alpharetta issued its state of emergency.
“I had to sit down and figure out how to change our business model,” she said.” We’ve been here eight years. We … had figured out how to do things a certain way. And that thing is bringing people together.”
Before the coronavirus outbreak, The Velvet Note gained a local and international following by streaming live performances. Sets featured acclaimed jazz artists often traveling from out of town to perform. Now, each weekend, local musicians will play for audiences watching on Facebook and YouTube. Viewings are free but listeners are asked to make donations through a new button on each site.
On Friday, jazz pianist Kevin Bales will perform and share stories of his musical career. Saturday, The Ray Howard Band will perform Motown songs by request.
Fuller has also turned to her loyal customer base for help. Donations have ranged from a few dollars to $500, she said, adding that the funds help pay musicians and keep The Velvet Note operating.
“There are people who know us and spend a good part of their time here, and there are people who have only been here once and they want to see us do well,” said Fuller.
Fuller and Stevens said the way to get through the coronavirus crisis is to be creative. The Velvet Note will start takeout and delivery food service in April. Dinner for two will come with online access to a previous music show.
From the Earth’s takeout service offers a farmers market box of produce with tomatoes, grapefruit, onions, red potatoes, asparagus and more.
“This is a horrible time for restaurants,” said Stevens. “We’ve been thinking out-of-the-box from day one. My employees have been overwhelmingly positive. We’re looking at this all as a community.”