“While we get to share a part of ourselves in a more relaxed setting, we feel at home on stage and miss being able to see our audience’s faces most of all.”
Not everybody’s acting like it, but COVID-19 is still around. We’re past the hundred-day mark, and while people are still getting sick, fortunately numbers are subsiding in some parts of the US.
Elsewhere, states like Florida and Texas have seen the virus roar back for a second wave. I get it—the weather is nice, a lot of people are out of a job, and others are worried about their financial future. Still, we have to be cautious about this situation, and when it comes to live music, fans are especially concerned about the fate of local venues. It’s not all bad news, but a lot of it is.
In Allston, Bowery Boston’s Carl Lavin is working to save the beloved Great Scott with a campaign via Mainvest that has raised more than $150,000 to date. Meanwhile, in Jamaica Plain, after more than 27 years in business, Bella Luna Restaurant & Milky Way Lounge will officially close.
“I definitely spent some of the best nights of my life at the Milky Way.” Asked about the importance of the spot, which was located in Hyde Square until 2008, DJ Knife said, “It’s where I cut my teeth as a DJ. Our hip-hop party Marinate started in the early 2000s and lasted over 10 years. We also did a Thursday night ’80s party called Aquanet. There’s too many memories to list. I’m eternally grateful for this venue and it’s a huge loss for the City of Boston.”
It’s never good when a venue closes. Livestreaming won’t solve the problem, but perhaps it can ease the pain a little bit.
This week’s COVID-19 Streams focuses on a beloved blues musician playing at home, the lead singer and guitarist from one of the area’s best prog rock bands putting out a solo track, an album to help people with Alzheimer’s, and three amazingly talented sisters.
Two-time Boston Music Award Blues Artist Of The Year winners The Silks from Providence have a knack for rocking places big and small. These days, singer and guitarist Tyler-James Kelly has been performing from home on Wednesday nights to make a few bucks and make ends meet.
“Streaming will never replace the feeling and enjoyment of live music in my opinion,” Kelly says about the experience. “At the same time, it has been humbling to hear from each and every fan their true support and love for the artists.”
Sometimes, the singer-guitarist performs solo; other times, he’s joined by his significant other Jess Powers, who also makes up the other half of their duo act Cowboy & Lady. To check it out and donate, visit The Silks’ Facebook page.
Reilly Somach, a singer and guitarist who shreds in the Manchester-by-the-Sea- based power trio The Rupert Selection, released a new solo acoustic song on May 15 titled “All We Have Is Time.”
“Since quarantine started, I’ve gained a new perspective on a lot of things I didn’t realize before, things I had taken for granted and how fleeting all of this really is.” Somach explained how the idea for the song started. “During a night in April, after feeling completely hopeless and overwhelmed, I decided to go into my bathroom with my guitar and a SM57 mic and record something. An hour later, ‘All We Have Is Time’ was that something. Since then, I’ve been trying to put as much time and energy as I can into writing and creating music that will be shared soon and trying to turn the negatives into positives. We’re all in this together. Hug your parents, family, friends and tell them you love them if you can.”
People can stream and purchase the track in a “name your price” format via Somach’s Bandcamp page.
On June 19, a compilation album titled The Longest Day will be released on CD, vinyl, and digitally via Mon Amie Records as part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s yearly fundraiser. The likes of New Order, Anna Calvi, Moby, Rituals Of Mine, Algiers, and others will have tracks included, and 100% of sales will benefit the organization. As for the local connection, Sadie Dupuis from the indie rock act Speedy Ortiz, which was based in Boston before moving down to Philly, contributed the song “Who Goes There” under the name of her solo project Sad13.
“It’s an outtake from the album Slugger, originally set aside as a Japanese bonus track,” Dupuis said about the song. “I’m happy it gets new life supporting such an important cause, especially for a compilation arranged by Mona Dehghan, who Speedy Ortiz first worked with in 2014. The excellent tracklist is a testament to the importance of Alzheimer’s Association’s work. Hearing how they were able to support Mona and her dad made participating an easy choice. I’m also thrilled to see the cover artwork from Ebru Yildiz, one of my favorite photo documentarians.”
Boston folk-rock act The Wolff Sisters have also been consistently livestreaming from home with Rachael, Rebecca, and Kat Wolff performing via Facebook. They recognize the difference from a regular live show, but they appreciate the interactiveness of it.
“The livestream performances have been a great way to stay connected with our fans in some capacity, but it’s a different type of intimacy than playing live,” Kat said about the medium. “While we get to share a part of ourselves in a more relaxed setting, we feel at home on stage and miss being able to see our audience’s faces most of all. The connection and atmosphere we create with our fans when physically together in a venue is electrifying. Playing online doesn’t quite have the same effect, so we can’t wait to get back out there. On the other hand, modern technology is such a gift and it’s given us a chance to play for and connect with those who normally can’t attend a show physically.”
“Overall, we’re thankful for any way we can stick together throughout this time to keep spreading love through music,” Kat added. “We are blessed for such a supportive community that will show up no matter where we’re playing, online or on stage.”
Now, it’s that part of the column where I round up what ONCE and Club Passim have rocking this weekend: Passim Streams has Sheila del Bosque and Nacho Gonzalez performing together on the 19th at noon as part of a co-presentation with Harvard Common Spaces. Later that night, the after party for Miles Of Music’s all-comers concert will happen at 8pm. Ellis Paul will strum his guitar on June 20 at 8pm, while the following night there will be a special Father’s Day show hosted by Don White at 7pm. The proceeds from each Passim Stream is split between the Cambridge music nonprofit and the performer. Keep that in mind while tuning in.
Meanwhile, ONCE’s Virtual Venue is still operating, this week with the podcast Dear Young Rocker hosted by Chelsea Ursin from the indie rock act Banana happening on the 20 at 8pm via Eventbrite. And on Sunday, June 21 at 7pm, there will be a “Bewitching Cabaret Macabre” called Night Flowers presented by Haus Of Delicious.
A lot of these streams have links to either Vemno or PayPal accounts so that performers can make a few bucks or raise money for an organization helping people in need. I also don’t need to explain why you should purchase new records and new music in general rather than being a dick and trying to download it for free. Keep this in mind while you’re being entertained by a musician. Stay safe and be well.
This article was produced in collaboration with the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism as part of its Pandemic Democracy Project.
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Rob Duguay is an arts & entertainment journalist based in Providence, RI who is originally from Shelton, CT. Outside of DigBoston, he also writes for The Providence Journal, The Connecticut Examiner, The Newport Daily News, Worcester Magazine, New Noise Magazine, Northern Transmissions and numerous other publications. While covering mostly music, he has also written about film, TV, comedy, theatre, visual art, food, drink, sports and cannabis.