ST. LOUIS — On Friday night, Mike "Big Mike" Aguirre and his band, The Blu City All Stars would usually be on a roll, having fun, performing in front of another St. Louis crowd.
"Yeah, normally this time of the year I'd probably be working eight days a week between venues and solo gigs," said Big Mike.
You might say Big Mike has gone "solo", but not by choice.
"Well, it was work. A gig and it was an opportunity to be in the market beyond St. Louis. It was certainly a wonderful destination. Anguilla is a beautiful place," said Aguirre, who's been performing for 20 years.
The St. Louis musician never imagined he'd be stuck on the beautiful island in the Caribbean for nearly three months.
"Yep, it's been 77 days. I packed for one week, and for an island, that's sandals and a couple of shirts and couple pair of shoes. We've had to learn how to live off having nothing other than a cellphone, but that's not even close to what other people are going through," he added.
In March, Aguirre and a friend flew to Anguilla so that Big Mike could perform in what's known as the longest running festival in Caribbean, but then the coronavirus pandemic ruined his trip.
"Well, COVID happened. The festival had just gotten underway. Things started getting haywire as far as air travel and news of the virus started traveling. We didn't know much about the virus at the time, and we didn't know about the risks of traveling," said Big Mike.
He told 5 On Your Side three people on the island tested positive for the virus and were immediately quarantined.
"The critical concern was obviously the virus breaking out. I'm incredibly grateful because I'm healthy. There are no active cases on the island right now. There's the sea, the blue sky and sunshine. I have the ability to at least pretend to work for money. I can still perform and do live stream online with a buddy of mine. We're kind of a day-to-day survival mindset," he said.
Now, Big Mike admits his survival, his loved ones in St. Louis and returning home are his main concerns.
He missed out on his son's 18th birthday on Friday, spending time with his mom on Mother's Day and this weekend he will add Memorial Day to the list.
"Border restrictions are tentatively in place until May 31. That will most likely be extended, but really we can't make any plans. It's kind of like riding in water," said Aguirre.
"As tough as it is in the long term, to lose my livelihood like so many other musicians, especially in St. Louis, I do not have any idea how I'm gonna pay rent or survive probably for months," he added.
Right now, Big Mike is trying to survive in Anguilla by performing with a buddy who lives there.
If you'd like to try to catch some of his performances or support him, visit his Facebook page, Dune Preserve.
Aguirre's friends are doing everything they can to help Big Mike as he waits to return to St Louis. They have since put him and the friend he traveled with up in a small apartment in Anguilla.