By ROB DUGUAY Live music has had two ways of thriving since the dawn of COVID-19 - socially distanced outdoor shows or live streams being broadcasted on the internet. Obviously outdoor shows are impossible these days due to frigid temperatures and
Live music has had two ways of thriving since the dawn of COVID-19 – socially distanced outdoor shows or live streams being broadcasted on the internet.
Obviously outdoor shows are impossible these days due to frigid temperatures and inclement weather, so the latter has become the only viable option for the time being. A few venues around Rhode Island have been resorting to this creative medium to give local and national acts a chance to keep their music fresh.
One in particular has been putting on virtual performances to raise money for a charity, while the others have been organizing them in their own way. It’s a unique experience for everyone involved, with the collective hope of things returning to a sense of normalcy by the end of the year being apparent.
Over at 301 Harris Ave. in Providence, Dusk has teamed up with the collaborative media company 476 Productions for a series called “Live Sessions” that’s streamed via the venue’s YouTube channel on Thursdays at 8 p.m. Past performances have included the rock ‘n’ roll act Sugar Cones and the blues-pop band Corinne Southern & The Constellations, with punk rockers Gnarnia due to take part on Feb. 25.
“Dusk owner Rick Sunderland approached me about a way to be able to give back to the music community for fighting to keep Dusk and other local music venues open during the pandemic,” 476 Productions owner Vinnie Bellows, a Warwick native, says about how the series started. “Both of us agreed that live music has a huge positive influence on the mental health of many people, so finding a way to bring that back became part of the plan. We decided to make use of the space at Dusk while the venue is currently closed to virtually host live concerts and give some local musicians a way to put on a show in a safe way that their fans, friends and family could enjoy from the comfort of their own home. Rick wanted to take it a step further and be able to provide some financial assistance to a local music program, and we came upon the story of Victoria Alviti and the foundation that her mother started and decided to add a virtual tip jar to help support their cause.”
“Everyone on the 476 Productions and Dusk crew is excited to be bringing some weekly local virtual shows to the area,” he adds. “We can’t wait until we can open the doors again and see everyone in person.”
In the heart of downtown Providence, AS220 has been doing some “Streaming Sessions” of its own from its performance space at 115 Empire St. These streams are being streamed via the venue’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/AS220 and Instagram page, www.instagram.com/as220providence. Their next stream is happening on Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. with the indie rock act Indelego taking the stage.
“For the AS220 ‘Streaming Sessions’ we’ve recorded sets that range from 20 minutes to up to an hour. We’re pretty flexible,” Jacob Nathan, director of live arts, says about the sessions. “Most of the recordings feature one act, but we’ve also had sessions with multiple performance acts that are recorded separately and then edited together before the release date or live with staggered arrival times. For all the events there must be less than 10 people in the room, including the production crew. Our production crew of two to three people engineers multi-track audio recordings and multiple camera performances. We’ve found the ‘Streaming Sessions’ to be a great way for artists to record and share their work during the pandemic.”
“We’re really pleased with the quality of the audio and video so far and excited to continue this practice even after the pandemic is over,” he adds. “We’re also proud that we’ve been able to pay artists for the sessions at a time where there are so few gigs to be had. We truly appreciate everyone who has helped financially support AS220 during the pandemic and allowed us to continue our work of providing a forum for local artists even during the most challenging of circumstances.”
At 1119 North Main St. near Providence’s East Side neighborhood, The Parlour aims to start doing some live streams via its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/parlourRI. The streams are scheduled to begin Feb. 20, with an act yet to be announced as of press time. The Parlour has also closed off an area in the front end of the venue where people can purchase pizza straight from the kitchen along with beer, pre-made cocktails and snacks.
“As we enter a new phase of COVID-19, The Parlour has had to endure some seemingly impossible odds at times,” owner Gregory Rourke says about the past few months. “With the love and support of our community, we have slowly been able to re-open in a different capacity. Part of this process has been the evolution of our to-go window. We started by selling boxes filled with local goods as well as beer and cocktails, and through that journey we were able to start selling pizza and doing live streams. When the pause hit, we were blessed with the HArT Recovery Grant where we were then able to upgrade our kitchen and live stream equipment.”
“We now have some indoor seating so you can enjoy a cocktail or beer while you wait for your pizza,” he adds. “We are super excited to start streaming again as well as provide a safe, COVID-19 compliant area for our customers. We look forward to slowly opening up to welcome the community safely back in as restrictions, vaccinations and the numbers permit.”
Down in South County, The United Theatre at 5 Canal St. in Westerly has teamed up with The Knickerbocker Music Center around the corner at 35 Railroad Ave. to put on a series called “Knick Live.” The series shows performances from various acts on Friday nights at 8 p.m. via The Knickbocker’s YouTube channel. The next one, on Feb. 19, will feature Hamilton Leithauser from the New York City indie rock act The Walkmen.
“Thanks to generous support from Rhode Island’s HaRt Recovery Grant, The United Theatre and The Knickerbocker Music Center in Westerly were able to produce a 10-show virtual series of new concerts filmed on the Knickerbocker stage,” United Theatre Artistic Director Tony Nunes says about how the series came to be. “It’s been so great to be able to put some musicians back to work, as well as some of the sound and stage techs that keep this industry running. We curated the series to include a diverse mix of sounds from incredible musicians on the regional and national scene. It was important for us to get those musicians on the stage to feel like a real show might, rather than producing yet another series of concerts filmed at home. We pre-filmed all 10 shows in a four-week period with no audience and a strict COVID-19 safety plan, and we look forward to sharing them every Friday through the end of March.”
For updates on AS220’s “Streaming Sessions” schedule, check out the event tab on its Facebook page.
The Parlour posts regularly on its Facebook page, so the best way to follow the venue is to give its page a good old-fashioned “like.”
All of the editions of “Knick Live” so far have been posted on The Knickerbocker Music Center’s video page at www.knickmusic.com/videos, with future editions to be posted there in the coming weeks.
Make sure to mark your calendar and watch these streams when they’re either broadcasted or uploaded, it’ll help make sure these fine establishments are here when the post-pandemic world arrives.