When the reality struck me that my live music scene options were about to be completely cut out in the foreseeable future, I admit my first thought was kind of selfish. I went to that place in my head that really enjoys and benefits from the communal gatherings of people at both large and intimate places and spaces that I visit with frequency.
Then my mind shifted to the artists and bands, the bars and large stadiums whose business models rely on touring acts and programming live music to thrive and survive financially. I have been extremely fortunate to work with and get to know so many of the people that work in and around the local, regional and even national music industry.
Sometime early last week I was on social media, where I follow a number of artists, bands and music venues, and I noticed that one of my favorite artists, Frank Turner, was planning a livestream house concert from his home in England. The show was set for St. Patrick’s Day and would include his wife and fellow musician Jess Guise and his friends Micah Schnarel and Vanessa Jean Spackman. With the time difference the show started at 4:30 p.m. That timing seemed odd for me, however, every musical moment seems to happen for a reason.
One of the very next posts I saw was announcing that the Dropkick Murphys, a band I have seen a half-dozen times live, would also do a livestream concert on St. Patrick’s Day from Boston starting at 7:30 p.m. At that point, with my wife, Allison, with all her Westmeath Ireland heritage skills serving up delicious Americanized Irish fair complete with my daughter's Irish potatoes, my St. Paddy’s night was set.
Both streams were awesome. The viewership numbers were impressive, with the Frank Turner & Friends Show peaking at about 13,000 people viewing, while the Dropkicks Show reached 134,000 people. I realized that even though both shows were livestreamed into my living room, I was in a strange way thrown back into a musical time machine to March 9, 2012, when I saw both, Turner opening for the Dropkick Murphys at the House of Blues in Atlantic City.
There have also been many other artists doing mini concerts or individual songs for fans and followers on their social media. Artists John Legend, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Charli XCX, Brad Paisley, Brian Fallon and more have all livestreamed music and/or mini concerts, and the list keeps growing. Check out the social media of your favorites to find out what they may be doing musically during the social distancing we are experiencing.
The use of livestreaming video and music is not limited to nationally known Billboard artists and bands. Musicians and South Jersey favorites such as Billy Walton, Mel & Tony, Chris Yoder and more performed songs and sets from their homes for their fans and followers.
The Anchor Rock Club is also doing something cool. They are inviting musicians to upload songs as part of their “Anchor Rock Club Acoustic Sessions” and playing those songs on their social media. These are the kinds of initiatives that can keep our music community connected even during these uncharted times.
So normally I would say I will see you at the shows or in the great local and regional music spaces to enjoy music together. But for the time being I will say Listen Up! to all of your favorite bands and artists on their livestreams, and I will be right there online with you. Stay safe, stay healthy and keep your favorite songs playing.