Published first at Southport Magazine
The show must go on. We’ve all heard that, but what if the audience isn’t allowed to gather? What if the venues are closed? How do musicians keep reaching their audience? They improvise, of course, and use whatever online options they can to keep their fans listening and entertained.
“This is a bit surreal to say the least; a Netflix series that we can’t shut off!” said Ronnie Weinstein. “Twenty five gigs will have been lost for me and my bandmates from the various projects that I participate in, if this just continues through the month of May. If the summer season is lost…over a hundred gigs for sure.”
But he and other local musicians are not alone. “Presently, there is not one working musician in this country regardless of their caliber of play, or popularity. Shock is indeed the emotion. Not ‘Comfortably Numb’ as in the Pink Floyd tune, just numb!” he said.
While local musicians may not be playing in public these days, they haven’t stopped playing. Randy Sadewater explained, “I spend four hours a day studying, practicing rehearsing and reviewing. Now with the extra time I would normally spend doing errands, or playing shows, I play guitar even more. For instance, I have been working on Satin Doll, a jazz piece that is extremely difficult to tackle and I will be adding it to our set list now.”
Weinstein agreed, “Everyone is rehearsing — practicing on their own. I’ve broken out my old Hanon scale exercise books for piano.”
He wonders what going back to playing together will be like. “The scariest part of this whole thing is not having an end in sight. The next fearful component is even after playing with these incredible musicians for hundreds of gigs and over five years, will we have cobwebs to shake off and squeaks that need greasing, or will we just ‘kill it’ like a race horse out of the gate! The passion to perform is definitely chomping at the bit, so that will not be an issue by any means.”
Sadewater said the musicians aren’t the only ones anxious for a return to live music. “We are messaging each other and encouraging each other. I think when this is over, there will not only be eager musicians, ready to play, but eager listeners, as well,” he said.
In the meantime, both musicians have taken to the internet to share their music.
“I started doing ‘live rehearsals’ because my fans said they missed my shows, so I thought I’d do a couple to see how well they went over,” said Sadewater. “I do them daily now by request. It’s like a virtual coffee house. When this is all over, we will get together for real, but until then, this is best we can do.”
Weinstein says the response to streaming from home has been good. “Likes and loves seem to be the ratings, along with the comments, and they have been good. Everyone has their peeps tapping them on the back. I am always very grateful for that. The views for video clips also are a good indicator. People are hungry for stimulation; I know I am. Look to see the Rev/Doc duo performing a live stream in the next couple of weeks; as soon as we know it is safe,” he said.
Not that taking the show to Facebook is without its challenges. “There is the occasional bark from Lucy as she protects the neighborhood or the doorbell ring from UPS. Of course, you need to have a good internet connection with upload speeds being most important,” Weinstein said. “The environmental issues are handled like a heckler in the crowd or a noisy audience. Live means live! Playing to an empty room is a bit tougher to overcome, as the audience engagement for any musician is a major inspiration for performance.”
Sadewater says it’s been as simple as pointing a phone at his rehearsals. “Many years before Facebook and social media I had a website for guitar lessons so I have always had a home studio. Now with Facebook, I use my phone, and I click the ‘Go Live’ button,” he said. “I have songs organized into set lists, around an hour of songs in each set. I rehearse one set every day in order to keep all the songs fresh in my memory because I do not use an iPad or sheet music with lyrics. After five days I’m back on set 1. All I’m doing is turning the phone on during rehearsal, so you get the set list I’m working on that day. Mistakes and all.”
Sharing music on Facebook isn’t new to Weinstein either. “I have always recorded live performances of gigs; mostly for my bandmates and myself as a learning tool. It has proven to be a great way to hear what needs tweaking for future performances,” he said. There is a loyal viewing base for the videos that are posted to Facebook.”
“The “Live Streaming” curve was a bit new to me,” Weinstein added, “but you are always as smart as the people in your inner circle – lol. I am indeed fortunate to have a large inner circle!”
“For me, it’s all about the music. I love playing songs. If my friends enjoy the music too, then so much the better,” Sadewater said. “I can hardly wait to play with my bandmates again.”
Beginning Thursday, May 7th, The American Fish Company will be presenting “Live from the R & B Studio!” This will be a weekly live streaming hour of local talent from Ronnie Weinstein’s studio to benefit UP YOUR ARTS. Up Your Arts is a non-profit organization founded in 2017 to support and enhance the creative and performing arts throughout the greater Southport area.
Find Randy: https://www.facebook.com/randyguitarjunkie