“The livestream shows have given me a sense of purpose. I’ve been trying to think of them as real shows. I look forward to them all week, I pick out an outfit, write a set list, and try to find lighting that doesn’t make me look like I’m in an interrogation room.”
COVID-19 is becoming similar to a bad stain on your underwear that won’t go away. No matter what you put on it, it’s still there, looking awful, wreaking havoc and making everyone panic.
Fine, maybe the latter phrases are a bit exaggerative, but this pandemic is nevertheless becoming a depressing, annoying, and scary element of our everyday lives. This coming summer, which is the best New England season and there’s no debate, is practically over before it even started.
But at least the livestreams from musicians and artists are still happening, which is one of the few positives in this dark time that has no apparent resolution.
This week’s edition of COVID-19 Streams takes a look at what a local legend has been doing in the comfort of his home, an arts initiative creating a playlist with the money going to support a relief fund, and yet another livestream series featuring Boston musicians and bands of different styles.
Chris Trapper from Cambridge rock staples The Push Stars has been keeping himself occupied in the age of COVID-19 by consistently livestreaming from his abode via Facebook and on Instagram. The streams have had themes such as a pajama party, performing his 2011 album Gone Again in its entirety, and a love song special that took place on Mother’s Day.
“In a certain way, the livestream shows have given me a sense of purpose. I’ve been trying to think of them as real shows,” Trapper said about the experience. “I look forward to them all week, I pick out an outfit, write a set list, and try to find lighting that doesn’t make me look like I’m in an interrogation room. I had a tour booked literally from March through the end of June, so I lost a lot of revenue from that. Beyond revenue, I have been on tour for 20 years, so I am dependent on the affirmation I get from an audience. In that sense, the livestream shows bring some of that, although it’s in a different and unusual form. As opposed to applause I might get a positive tweet after the livestream show.”
“What has been most affirming to me,” Trapper added, “is how much people seem to appreciate the fact that musicians across the spectrum are doing concerts from their homes. It seems to bring a sense of connection and belonging. You are also seeing artists of every level on the same level, with the same production values, so it’s kind of cool in that sense that no one can hide behind the hype of a stage show. It’s kind of about content and the connectivity to the performer’s character.”
Created by the Somerville organizations Union Sound and Flagg Street Studio, Mission:Music is an arts initiative that will release a playlist of songs by Boston musicians and artists via Spotify and Apple Music tomorrow. All the royalties from the streams will be donated to The Record Co.’s Boston Music Maker COVID-19 Relief Fund to help out full-time musicians. People can literally support this endeavor by simply pressing play.
“In Boston, I believe there’s no signature sound that defines our music scene,” Erik “Loman” Sarno, the founder of Union Sound, said about the making of the playlist. “When it comes to hip-hop, various styles exist in our area. Showcasing this variety was an important part of the playlist’s curation. I began reaching out to local legends and newcomers a few weeks ago; most were receptive to the idea and happy to donate music. It all came together rather quickly, I hope listeners recognize and appreciate the diverse talents of our homegrown artists and producers.”
The folks at Gigabit, Do617 and Secret Boston have continued their partnership in this age of livestreams through a series called Local Focus. People can tune in through either Gigabit, Do617, or Secret Boston’s Facebook pages, or through Gigabit’s website or do617.com. This Saturday at 6:30pm, they have an event with singer-songwriter Ben Cosgrove, who will be joined by indie pop act Copilot.
“We are excited about being a part of the Local Focus series,” Copilot co-vocalist Ry McDonald said about the upcoming event. “The silver lining to this pandemic has been connecting and working with a lot of new people in the industry.”
McDonald continued: “The challenge with livestreaming is finding new ways to keep it fresh and fun for us and the audience. However, the commute is nice and we are happy to keep plugging away at the streams and such until we can get back to the stage with everyone again.”
Keep tabs on all of these virtual players to see what will happen over the coming weeks. As for this weekend, Club Passim’s Passim Streams is still going strong with a Memorial Day Campfire Festival starting this Saturday and ending on Thursday, May 28, with each night starting at 5pm with a minimum suggested donation of $15. More than 75 acts are set to perform including Buffalo Rose, Chris O’Brien, Lisa Bastoni, and Hayley Sabella.
ONCE is also operating its virtual venue via Facebook, with Kaia Wilson of Team Dresch performing on May 23 at 8pm and Prism Bitch premiering their music video for “See You Cry” on the following night at the same time.
I’ve mentioned this a ton since the stay-at-home orders were issued, but when you see a musician or an artist livestreaming, and there’s a link to their PayPal or Venmo account, it isn’t just for decoration. It’s because they’re asking for donations and they can use the money. Please consider that when you’re watching someone perform via social media, it can help out a whole lot in these uncertain times.
This article was produced in collaboration with the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism as part of its Pandemic Democracy Project.
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.