April 2020: We’ll Do It Live
With all of the uncertainty and changes around us, one thing has remained constant: live music. It’s just that the venue looks a little different. Tufts of dog hair have replaced hardwood floors. Throw pillows might be found where barstools used to sit. Tickets are easy to come by. And man is the beer cheaper and the crowd way more quiet and respectful.
I am of course referring to the widespread trend of taking live music to the multiple streaming platforms. You can find someone playing a show at just about any hour of the day post-noon on any social media platform. We tried to change ours up a bit by including YouTube for archiving purposes. It’s been a rewarding, fulfilling touch of normalcy amid this crisis.
After Jonny Burke’s performance the other night he called to tell me how appreciative he was for the experience. He had been apprehensive all day long prior to his show, musing “I’ve played in bars since I was 16, but I’ve never played a show to a computer.” He did fine. And so has everyone else that has performed during this turbulent time. It can be offputting to not get that immediate human feedback. Sure, you can read the comments people leave and count your Venmo tips afterward. But, it’s just not the same as eye contact, hearing the whoops and hollers, the clanging glass and digging that greasy $5 bill out of the grimy tip jar that hundreds of others have used before you.
But, it’s what we’ve got. And it’s what we’re going to have for the foreseeable future. I predict that even once the Covid pandemic passes and we’re all moving forward, these online shows will not go away. There have been a great many folks interacting with them that don’t normally go to Billy Bob’s, Gruene Hall etc. I saw a woman on my Facebook feed who posted that she was enjoying the CoJo live stream, despite having never attended a concert of any kind in person. I think we’ve tapped a new market. The old one will return, and I can’t wait for the day I can raise my longneck in solidarity with fellow music fans as we scream along to the lyrics about never getting over Joley, coke dealing clowns in Eastland and the like. However, I also appreciate this new frontier. Seeing your favorite singer/songwriters from the comfort of home had been the type of experience reserved for album releases and any type of special occasion needed to drum up some social media cume. Yet, it’s proving to be a vital outlet on a vast frontier of wonderment ahead of us.
The same types of problems that plague traditional live music are hindering some of the online platforms. Oversaturation: check. Deserving young artists overshadowed by dinosaurs going through the motions: check. Perhaps most glaringly is it has pointed out the entertainment quotient of some artist. Don’t just sit there and stare blankly into your phone as you strum 3 chords and wail your latest single. If I wanted to hear or see that, I’d take my guitar into the bathroom and stare at the mirror as I played an old Robert Earl Keen song.
Give me something real. Give me something you. Give us something worth tuning in for amid the dozens of shows happening at the same time. The savvy of some artists is shining through this time and others are being exposed. Yet, sometimes it feels like there aren’t that many of us keeping score.
Alas, as we continue down this road of uncertainty and inundated live performances, things will continue to refine. We learn things we can do better with each GW Covid Concert Series show. I hope you’re enjoying them now. I hope it gives you a sense of calm and normalcy as we float day to day through a cloud of murky uncertainty like none we’ve ever seen. Until we come out the other side of this, keep tuning in, keep tipping, keep supporting live music. It is a literal lifeline, the consequence of which hasn’t been completely tallied as of yet.
-We may be tackling this topic in a broader sense on an upcoming Co-Write podcast. Or at least Bobby and Donovan will.
-Speaking of Bobby, his GW Covid show the other night was cool in that he was turning over all money he earned to those other musicians and songwriters and bartenders etc that he knew really and truly needed it. Other artists have been doing the same and that’s been a cool thing to witness.
-It has been extremely odd to hit April and not have baseball.
-The video game NASCAR race has been the best sports I’ve seen in a month.
-The COVID cases keep popping up closer and closer to home and with more and more artists we love. Please follow the suggested guidelines and let’s knock this sucker out.
-Tiger King confirmed all my biases about Oklahoma. And the memes. Oh my the memes. I ended up watching the entire series twice. That’s what quarantine does to a man.
-I think our dogs are wondering when we will leave the house to them again. They’re like “Bro, it’s time for you to be done visiting…get out of our place.”
-As of now, we still plan to have River Jam in July. As of now.
–This month’s recommended album: Porter Union – Loved and Lost. Albums haven’t stopped dropping just because we’re in quarantine. But they have managed to slip through the cracks due to it. This album came out back in early March, but I’m just now getting around to delving in. This husband-wife duo knows their way around a song. The songs on this collection harken back to the halcyon days of country music with Kenny and Dolly or Conway and Loretta or George and Tammy. There are love songs and life songs. Make-ups, breakups and we’ll get through this songs. Harmonies abound, as does some clever turns of phrase. This record doesn’t sound like anything out on the market right now.
-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain