“We have no touring expenses like gas, hotels, childcare, our bandmates and our crew, which make it extremely challenging to come home with any profit.”
From the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic until now, live streaming has gradually become the norm when it comes to experiencing something close to live music. Countless musicians and bands are taking part in the trend and it seems like it will be this way for a while.
On that note, we have been doing weekly rundowns of local musicians and bands doing streams you ought to check out. We want to keep you entertained during a time when boredom and lethargy can set in at any minute. This edition of the rundown focuses on a couple of transplanted acts who have roots in the city, as well as on a special event to spur awareness about mental health during this crisis.
David Wax and Suz Slezak from the “Mexo-Americana” act David Wax Museum, which started out in Boston, have been performing from their home in Charlottesville, Virginia regularly on Tuesday nights at 8:30pm and Fridays at 2pm. Wax sees it as an opportunity for another kind of connection with fans rather than getting lost in the uncertainty of the situation.
“After the initial panic I felt when all our spring tours got cancelled, there was a rather immediate shift in my perspective,” he said about the live streams. “I realized there was a unique opportunity for engaging with our fans through weekly live streaming on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and also having virtual house concerts via Zoom.”
“Suddenly,” Wax added, “all the music industry infrastructure that typically mediates our connection to our fans vanished. Now Suz and I are speaking and singing directly to our audience and they are tipping us directly. We have no touring expenses like gas, hotels, childcare, our bandmates and our crew, which make it extremely challenging to come home with any profit.
“Instead, we are able to put our kids to sleep then slip upstairs into our makeshift studio. We’re used to hustling and being part of an industry in flux, and that has all been good preparation for carving out an online income stream during the quarantine.”
Over in Nashville, Kristen Ford, another Boston-bred artist, is gearing up for the release of the music video for the new jam “$crubs” on April 16, in addition to live-streaming on a consistent basis. The song is Ford’s musical shoutout to those keeping our hospitals and grocery stores running.
“With ‘$crubs’ I wanted to create a song honoring those who are working in healthcare and other essential duties,” Ford explained. “I have been thinking of all the average folks like myself who are adjusting to life working from home as well. The song is upbeat, but the message is a bit somber at times.”
As for process, Ford “worked remotely with everyone, recording my parts in my home studio and sending files between: Oakland, where Briget Boyle, who I was touring around California with this time last year, lives; Atlanta, where my cellist and bandmate Kels Von Strantz is; and three different parts of Nashville. Conscious rapper Dedo, who I met at a cool East Nashville venue called the Bowery Vault, producer Jordan B Grubbs, and mastering engineer Duncan Ferguson have also worked with me on it.”
“The music video has been filmed 100% social distancing and using submitted photos of fans and friends from across the internet,” Ford added. “The hope is to show a project made far apart which brings us together.”
Also on the 16th is Closer In Crisis, a mental health benefit concert that’s being presented by the community organization Sound Mind. The lineup for it is stacked with Chadwick Stokes from Dispatch and State Radio, Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes, Langhorne Slim, Foy Vance, Jade Bird, Alex The Astronaut, and Boston folk rock trio The Ballroom Thieves.
“We’re honored to be a part of Closer in Crisis this Thursday,” Martin Earley of The Ballroom Thieves said about the benefit. “Sound Mind has partnered with Backline, which is a really great organization that supports mental health for musicians and industry professionals. It’s been a hell of a year, but taking part in a concert with some of our favorite musicians, to benefit a good cause, is not something we could pass up. It’s no mystery that we all struggle with our own mental health in a myriad of different ways, so anything that sparks conversation in the mental health community and beyond is worth doing.”
Closer to home, Boston singer-songwriter Will Dailey continues his “Isolation Tour” run, raising money to support full-time artists. So far he has taken in more than $500, while also hiring three musicians for projects to be released in the future. GHOST GRL, the moniker of Boston indie/ambient artist Gianna Botticelli, will live stream on April 17 at 6pm as part of a benefit for the Maple Farm Sanctuary in Mendon. All while the crew from Club Passim in Cambridge continues its Passim Streams series to raise money for the organization and put some cash into the performers’ pockets. This weekend features Greg Jukes performing at noon on the 17th, Chris O’Brien performing that day at 6pm, and the Down Home At Home bluegrass festival happening on April 18 and 19.
Despite the way things look outside—desolate, hopeless—live streaming can offer a necessary distraction while reinforcing the connection we all share through music. This stuff has the power to lift spirits. Log on, watch, and donate some money you can, it definitely goes a long way.