“All this being said, there is nothing better than a live performance for a live audience and damn I am so thirsty for that.”
The whole world is a mess.
Since police brutality returned to the forefront of national attention in the wake of George Floyd being killed by a Minneapolis cop, there have been mass protests and riots and fears that the ongoing tension will escalate. It would be great if we had some way for art and music to unite people in person, but we can’t even get together to do that in a normal setting because of COVID-19.
So far, the year has been a shit sundae with all of these issues as the toppings.
Maybe livestreaming can serve a purpose for calming us down and thinking about how to make real progress while watching a talented musician perform online. Kind of in a similar way to how James Brown famously helped de-escalated a tense situation with his publicly broadcasted show from the old Boston Garden following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968.
I know this may sound naive to some, but music and positive thinking can help, or serve as relief, especially when the world looks this bleak.
This week’s COVID-19 Streams focuses on one of New England’s best songwriters, a very important event happening to help one of the most impacted cities in the Boston metro area, and a rundown of what to check out this weekend.
Hailing from the small Maine town of South Berwick, Dan Blakeslee lived in Somerville for years while performing all over, whether it was busking in the subways or performing at bars all across the region. Now he lives in Providence and he has been livestreaming on his Facebook page from his home on a regular basis while making each performance a bit different.
“When the quarantine started on March 16th in the Providence area, I had just come home from playing a couple shows in the White Mountains of New Hampshire not knowing they would be my last public performances for a stretch,” Blakeslee says. “Instead of just playing what I would do at a gig for these virtual shows I have tried to make each one of them special. I did a show of mostly new songs that I have written during quarantine, an all cover set of songs that have inspired me through the years and all Halloween show with a room full of jack-o-lanterns, lights and props, a lullaby set, a “Night Owl” set and other things. I also started using different visual elements, a fish-eye lens, wiping forehead grease over the lens for a vintage glow, also filming in different locations in my apartment for a change of scenery.”
Blakeslee continues: “At first it just felt strange doing these performances, but I realized more and more how it has been affecting people not being able to go and see music, and it has been affecting me too. … I have gotten a lot of good responses and felt the love through comments and emojis, I also feel like folks have been extra generous with these shows. The best part is that all of the people who aren’t able to attend my shows in person because they either live far away or have kids are now able to view the performances. There have been many struggles over the past few months and especially as of late and the togetherness, though we are apart, has been felt. All this being said, there is nothing better than a live performance for a live audience and damn I am so thirsty for that.”
Streaming on the Calling All Crows Facebook page and a dozen other social media pages on June 9 starting at 8pm, All In For Chelsea will be raising much needed funds for United Way’s One Chelsea Fund to support COVID-19 relief efforts in the city of Chelsea, which has been one of the hardest hit areas in the United States. Will Dailey, Chadwick Stokes from Dispatch & State Radio, Oompa, Cliff Notez, Tanya Donelly from Throwing Muses and Belly and others will perform. There will also be interviews with first responders and essential workers from Green Roots, Chelsea Collaborative, The Neighborhood Developers, and United Way.
“We’ve all been affected by the coronavirus,” Dailey says about the event. “However, it is no secret that some areas of the city and certain populations have suffered more than others. As a community, we need to rally around Chelsea and do what we can to help. I’m proud to be part of this event and am incredibly appreciative of all the musicians and partners who have volunteered their time and talents to make an impact.”
Another musician taking part in All In For Chelsea is Aubrey Haddard. She plans on keeping things simple while unveiling a new song for the folks who have supported her creative efforts.
“I was really honored when Will Dailey asked me to be part of this show.” Haddard talks about her involvement. “With everything that’s going on, I think we are more capable than ever of coming together and making a difference in our communities. My performance will be simple, featuring an old song people might recognize and a new one for all the people supporting my continued creativity and other independent artists through this challenging time.”
Also, Club Passim’s Passim Streams are still flowing through cybersphere with Christine Lavin performing on June 6 at 8pm. As always, the money made each Passim Stream is split between the performer and the Cambridge arts nonprofit and music venue. ONCE in Somerville is also resuming their Virtual Venue status with Disq and Honey Cutt performing on June 5 at 8pm and a post-punk dance party called Dark Dance at Sundown happening on June 6 at 9pm.
As I’ve mentioned before, most livestreams have a link to donate directly to whoever is performing or a charity helping those in need during these uncertain times. Don’t forget to shell out a few bucks while being entertained, I guarantee it goes a long way.
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.