“The lack of real human connection that can be achieved when you’re sweating your heart out in a room full of people is devastating.”
We seem to be at a crossroads with COVID-19 these days, and the strange thing is that the situation isn’t as complicated as some folks make it out to be. States that have hastily reopened, like Florida and Texas, have seen a spike in cases. Others that are being more cautious about things, like the majority in New England, have either seen a leveling off of numbers or even a decrease.
I’m no doctor, but maybe we should still handle this situation more consciously and perhaps still wear our masks when we go out? I know the latter might be uncomfortable for some people, but it’s better than breathing together in public.
On the live music front, it seems like if Allston’s beloved music venue Great Scott reopens, it won’t be at their location on 1222 Commonwealth Ave. The current owners of the building will put a new tenant in the building, perhaps some corporatized convenience store if I’m guessing. It’s no secret that Boston has been headed down the gentrification rabbit hole for a while now, with all sorts of culture withering away. It’s an absolute shame. But in one positive development, Great Scott’s MainVest campaign started by booker Carl Lavin raised nearly $200,000, and hopefully he will use the money to open up a new place for live music under the Bowery Boston umbrella.
Meanwhile, livestreams are still going strong into the summer, and this edition of COVID-19 Streams focuses on a band of shredders from the South Shore and a couple of anniversary parties.
Hailing from East Bridgewater, The Quins have been livestreaming while actually performing at venues including Soundcheck Studios in Pembroke and Fete Music Hall in Providence. While they’re thankful for the opportunity to still perform in the absence of ubiquitous live music, the band misses playing in front of a crowd.
“Given the current state of the live music industry, livestreams seem like an obvious blessing from above for musicians,” co-guitarist and co-vocalist Quincy Medaglia said. “It’s a way to stay connected with your fans, keep up with practicing the craft, and even connect with new followers who may not have heard you otherwise. However, the longevity of livestreaming as a viable option for musicians is far less hopeful. The lack of real human connection that can be achieved when you’re sweating your heart out in a room full of people is devastating.”
“I believe the only way for us to truly get back to feeling normal again is to be able to set up on a stage, look into the faces of people who love you and hear the sounds of your music blasting through the air of a room,” Medaglia added. “There’s really no substitute for that.”
For future streams from The Quins, check out their Facebook page.
Boston label Cultures Of Soul is ringing in its 10th Anniversary on June 27 starting at noon with a DJ dance party featuring the likes of Andy Smith, Ruf Dug, Greg Belson, Bad Lieutenant, and many others. The imprint was born from a love of rare releases and the digital stream will celebrate that.
“The label started out of my own passion for music, I’ve always wanted to start a record label.” Cultures Of Soul owner and operator Deano Sounds spoke about the organization’s beginnings. “It took my whole life to that point to figure out what type of music I wanted to put out on and what I wanted to do. About 20 years ago, I really got into record collecting and unearthing rare records from all over the place. I would often not find those records either and have the ambition to find these great records and the understanding that if I was able to find them that other people would want to hear them as well. The record label came out of that certain aesthetic I looked for when digging for records and what I’d want in my collection that I didn’t have and knowing that the eclectic DJ’s would want to include in their sets.”
“I was never into live streaming at all, but with what everyone is going through with COVID-19 we had to do something,” Deano said about the event. “I had a small ambition to do a party for the anniversary in Boston. Bad Lieutenant and I had planned to throw the party at a small venue in Boston with a few other local DJs, but with the virus it opened up the possibilities. We now could gather up a bunch of DJs from different locations and from all over the world spinning music through our livestream. If we didn’t have the livestream it would be much different. I picked each one of these DJs because they each bring something unique and there’s something I respect about each of them. We’ll see how the technical side works out, but I know the music will be good.”
You can get all the info about the anniversary and where to access the stream at culturesofsoul.com.
The Mess Around, a cavalcade of rock, also celebrates an anniversary this weekend. For them it’s four years on June 28 at 6pm, and their stream will feature Justine Covault from Justine & The Unclean and Tom Baker from The Dirty Truckers. Jay Allen from Jay Allen & The Archcriminals will host the event.
“Livestreams and virtual performances have been a great way to stay in touch with fellow musicians, friends, and fans during the pandemic,” Covault said about the trend. “It’ll never be the same as playing or experiencing a live show, but it provides a very bright spot during a rather bleak time. As our learning curve with the technology goes up, we find new ways to be creative with the format and improve the look, sound, and interactivity of the experience for viewers. The Mess Around has been live streaming for a few years now actually. We started doing it directly from our live shows at the Plough & Stars in Cambridge as a way for folks who couldn’t be there in person to still enjoy the Mess.”
“When lockdown came, it felt completely natural for us to continue our live streams from our various homes, and to invite guest performers to do the same,” Covault added. “We did livestream shows via Facebook in March, April, and May. One amazing bonus was the ability to include guests from far away, as we did in May with Rum Bar Records artists Marc Platt from Los Angeles’ The Real Impossibles, Cromm Fallon and Trueland Morris from Las Vegas, and Bill Maynard and Kevin Kalen from Wisconsin. We’ve also had viewers tuning in from distant locations, which is a real treat. We’ve also been using the virtual format to collect donations for small music venues and their staff in need. These folks are our friends and supporters, and they’ve been hard hit by this crisis.”
The anniversary will be cast as part of ONCE’s virtual venue series, and will raise money for both ONCE and the Plough. Folks can register for the stream on Facebook, and on the day of the show, viewers will receive a Zoom link that will combine a YouTube stream, Zoom commentary, and a live after-show interview. Also virtual from ONCE this weekend is the Back Porch Carousel on the 26th, and Friendship Commanders on the 27th. For a complete list of all of the virtual venue events coming up, check out ONCE’s Facebook page.
This column wouldn’t be what it is without some love for Club Passim, and their Passim Streams are still rolling along. Two Chord Songs For The Ukulele featuring Anne Ku will be on the 26th at noon, and at the same time, accordion player Giorgio Albanese will perform as part of a co-presentation with Harvard Common Spaces. Cathy Mason will play cajun fiddle on the 27th at 2pm, while at the same time Ku will return with more songs on the uke. All Passim Streams can be watched through Club Passim’s Facebook page, and the money made from each stream is split between the performer and the Cambridge nonprofit music venue.
That’s what I got for this week. When you see that PayPal or Venmo link pop up, make sure to donate because it’ll help a talented musician get through these crazy times. Also, buy local music because there’s plenty of it coming out. 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.