Excitement surrounds return of live music to San Rafael


Jasmin Desruisseau

People walk towards the busy food trucks and music coming from 4th Street in Downtown San Rafael.

For almost two years, performance opportunities for artists have been limited by COVID-19. Shows were cancelled, travel was restricted, and band practices were no longer an option. Now that COVID-19 vaccines are more widely available, live music is reopening in many towns and cities, including San Rafael.

San Rafael hosts Dining Under the Lights every Thursday and Friday night from 5pm to 9pm on Fourth Street, where the street is closed off to cars and lit up, allowing customers and audiences to fill the space and enjoy the inviting outdoor seating along with the live bands dispersed across the street. Solena Ornelas, a student at Dominican University, attended this vibrant event, grateful to be in the presence of live music again.

“I miss the camaraderie of [live music] because music is a universal language and it is something that is able to bring us all together. Everybody understands it and regardless if you like it or not, you feel something from it,” Ornelas said.

Participating in the music scene once again makes Ornelas realize how much she has missed live music and the sense of community it brings to people who enjoy it. 

“Especially in the times we live in we need something that is able to bring us together,” Ornelas said.

The excitement surrounding the return of live music extends to the performing artists as well. Being able to share their songs in front of a live audience again has brought new joy to musicians. The pandemic took away previous collaboration between musicians and audiences, and artists are excited to have this connection back.

“There’s nothing like human interaction, nothing like it,” said Phil Solar, drummer and vocalist in a rock band called “Road Runners” that performs in San Rafael.

Solar and his bandmates have continued practicing during the COVID-19 pandemic, using old and new practicing styles to overcome this obstacle.

“We’re old enough that we’ve played so many years that we practice on our own at home,” Solar said.

The success of Dining Under the Lights prospers even after COVID-19 precautions have been slowly lifted. As more venues and bands book concerts, a sense of normality returns to a community, eager to watch live music again.