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Livestream Concerts Just A Click Away

The coronavirus has suddenly enhanced our vocabulary with words we had hardly heard of and phases we had never used. How about these: pandemic; flatten the curve; social isolation; toilet paper shortage; furlough; new normal etc.

And here is one for music fans: Livestream Concerts.

Forget about paying between 50 and 100 bucks to go and see your favourite artist, not to mention exorbitant parking fees; a grumpy bouncer who all but strip-searches you; over-priced bar prices; and the warm-up act who thinks notes are something you use when shopping.

Now you can lie back on your couch, put your feet up and watch Charlie Watts play air drums; Jason Isbell go on about being sober around drunk people; and his wife Amanda Shires giving you too much information on how she towels herself after showering.

And in between the puffery, you can see Mick Jagger belt out “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and Isbell and Shires deliver a wonderful rendition of “Angel from Montgomery” - a tribute to John Prine on the day he died from Covid-19.

And it won’t cost you a cent, not to mention the grumpy bouncer and ponderous opening act. However, if so inclined you are encouraged to donate to whatever charity the virtual artist might be plugging via streaming!

It is not surprising that the boredom of quarantine, combined with the guilt of having to cancel live gigs, has driven many musicians to do live concerts on the internet, direct from kitchen, living room or elaborate home studio.

Isbell and Shires (pictured) led the way from a stage in the barn at their Nashville home. Together with bandmates – another husband & wife - Seth Plemmons and Kelly Garcia Plemmons, they devised a streamed-show, billed as I So Lounging with Amanda Shires. In fact, Shires did daily live acts consecutively during the first 30 days of social isolation. In between the songs, there was a lot of musical improvisation, trivial banter - as mentioned - plus Q & A’s from viewers via social media.

And add to this, Amanda’s mum provided daily cocktail recipes from her living room, with saucy lines like: “Three of these and I’m under the table; four and I’m under the host.”

Shires told Rolling Stone: “I wanted it to be unrehearsed. There are a few people that would prefer we just play song, song, song, in a row, but we love talking with our friends and fans, and so many folks in the world have struggles with their relationships, or with their sobriety or with their mental health. So many people are isolated and sheltering in place at home alone right now. We wanted it to feel more like hanging out around a bar, or a dinner table…I struggle with my own set of dark, complicated feelings and I felt like, maybe if there were folks out there feeling things, we could talk about them.”

Shires raised thousands of dollars for the MusiCares Covid-19 Relief Fund before putting the show in temporary hiatus.

John Fogarty and kids Shane, Kelsy and Tyler couldn’t make it to National Public Radio for a Tiny Desk show, so the Tiny Desk went to the Fogarty family studio as part of the improvised NPR Tiny Desk (Home) Concert series.

Fogarty declared: “Well here we are at Tiny Desk. How’re you doing everybody. I realise y’all sitting in your home like we are. Everybody’s stuck in their house. Wash ya hands and stay safe!”

He then referenced his most famous gig: “Anyway this is our tiny desk,” he said, pointing to a road case he had from his Creedence Clearwater Revival days. “It’s over 50 years old and was at Woodstock with me, as well as this guitar right here. That’s the one I played at Woodstock. That was a long time ago.”

The four-song set began with a stirring “Centerfield,” complete with John’s signature guitar lick. After the intros, it was three of the best from CCR . First up was “Down On The Corner,” before John switched to the keyboard for “Long As I Can See The Light.” Kelsy, in her senior high school year, then lamented on missing final graduation and the Prom, before John introduced “probably my most famous song” – “Proud Mary.”

Other families too have used the lockdown to provide entertainment from the confines of home.

No surprise that Willie Nelson has been among them. Willie, together with sons Lukas and Micah, went on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and did an at-home version of “Hello Walls”, a song he was more famous for writing than recording. It was a 1961 hit for Faron Young and Willie made a special dedication to his old friend: “We had a lot of fun together. But he made a bit of fun out of the song. He would go around singing ‘hello walls, hello commode’ and one thing and another, he thought it was funny so we’ll dedicate this song to Faron Young.”

The trio then ripped into it, with the each singing a verse and the boys hitting the high notes in the “hello, hello” refrain. It was truly a song for isolation times, not lost on Willie as he and the boys crooned:

We got to all stick together

Or else we’ll all lose our minds

I got a feeling we’re going to be here

A long long time

Earlier in the day, Willie and Lukas hosted a five-hour variety show online titled “Come and Toke It” in honour of 4/20 marijuana holiday. Willie had all the good “toke lines” as he introduced live performances from the likes of Margo Price, Langhorne Slim, Kacey Musgraves and Patterson Hood. Willie turns 87 on April 29 and will release a new album First Rose of Spring in July.

Perhaps the most high-profile married couple in show biz, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa, got into the virtual act. The pair joined Bon Jovi and other New Jersey music stars on the Jersey 4 Jersey fundraiser, a live-stream benefit concert to support the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. They opened with the E Street Band reunion song “Land of Hope and Dreams” before returning a little later with the very mood-appropriate Tom Waits-classic “Jersey Girl” – a long-time Springsteen favourite.

But it was the biggest social-distancing fund raiser – Global Citizen’s One World: Together at Home Special - which brought out the biggest of the big, big names in the business, including Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones.

The Stones appeared in quad-split screen from their respective homes to perform an extended version of the Let It Bleed classic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Jagger began solo on acoustic guitar before the other members joined in. Keith Richards provided backing vocals, as did Ronnie Wood who served up a convincing guitar solo. Charlie Watts provided the levity with that air-drumming!

“We are honored to be invited to be part of the One World: Together at Home broadcast — from our homes in isolation. A fantastic event with Global Citizen in the fight against Covid-19,” the band said in a statement prior to the performance. The Stones were forced to cancel their upcoming North American tour due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Of course, countless other artists and music festivals have also cancelled events. When live shows might be rescheduled is the big question. American promoters have speculated that big concerts may not return until the Fall (September/October) and these are likely to include severe seating restrictions.

Until then, live (streamed) music is only a click away (apologies to Mick/Keith).

Until then, live (streamed) music is only a click-way (apologies to Mick)!

Until then, live (streamed) music is only a click-way (apologies to Mick)!


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