UPDATE 9-8-2021: Ben Folds has canceled his upcoming performances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra due to the rate of COVID-19 infections in the city, he announced on social media. DSO officials confirmed that the concerts, slated for October 22-24 at the Meyerson Symphony Center, have been canceled and ticket-holders will be contacted.
In his post, Folds says, "While our contacts at these venues have been working closely with us to ensure appropriate COVID protocols are implemented, because of trends in the rate of COVID infections that are beyond their control, we do not feel it prudent at this time to proceed with these particular shows." Performances in New Haven, Tampa, Charleston, Portland, and Detroit also have been canceled.
Pop singer Ben Folds is adding a new requirement for attendees: They must be vaccinated.
In a characteristically charming Facebook post, Folds laid down a new set of protocols for shows that will be effective immediately. Those include proof of vaccination, and a proviso that masks be worn inside venues for any indoor shows he performs in 2021.
He also postponed some immediate shows taking place in August, so that they will be able to accommodate the new routine.
Folds said that the majority of his indoor shows scheduled for August and September are at venues that have confirmed they will follow the new vaccine only/mask always requirements, and they're working through the details for shows on tap for October and November. Folds is currently scheduled to appear at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in late October.
"If our precautionary measures seem extreme to some, at least we’ll agree that our health is always Number One," his post said. "This is the way we're going about trying not to add to local health care woes across multiple states."
"I lobbied to add that cheap beer was to be administered intravenously (better tasting, less filling), and that flash photography with implanted arm chips would be prohibited, but is that kind of stuff really helpful?" he joked.
Folds said that the decision to implement such a strict vaccine/mask policy came after weeks of consulting with multiple venue operators and promotors, trading notes with other touring artists, and talking to health care pros.
Other performers who've enacted similar measures include Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, who relocated their August 13 concert from Panther Island Pavilion to Billy Bob's Texas. Isbell is requiring proof of vaccination or a current negative test for all attendees at his upcoming shows. If that's not allowed at the venue, then he's opting not to play there.
Folds said he's fully vaccinated, as is his crew.
"We'll be testing twice a week," he said. "We’ll stay masked while traveling as we hop in and out of cabs, check in and out of hotels, and make our way through airports across several states."
"That goes for me too, right up to the moment when the house lights dim, the dry ice spills across the stage, and I begin to sing the truth and three chords into a golden mic," he said. "The mask will need to come off then of course. And the shirt. You know it."
He ended with another light joke: "For the record, I always place a condom on the microphone anyway," he said.