When the state shut down bars last week to help halt the spread of COVID-19, local musicians lost their main source of income, and residents lost their community music venues.
Since many people are already flocking to social media platforms for entertainment while being stuck in their homes, a Pasco County podcaster has decided to stream an entire concert for free on Facebook.
“I have a big philosophical view of this that I think a lot of people are paying attention to the advice we got after 9/11: which is live your life as normal,” said organizer Greg Smithwick.
“Well, we can't. This is a situation where we can't go out and go shopping. We can't go out and eat with our families. So, you know, having a way to provide music to people in their homes, and make them feel socially connected to others is important.”
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On Saturday, March 28, on the So Local LIVE Network Facebook page, seven bands will perform 45-minute sets from 5 p.m. to midnight during the Stay The Heck Home Music Festival, with music ranging from blues and fusion to electronica and even a violinist.
The musicians, most of which will be playing with fewer bandmates in standing with social distancing measures, will use Zoom Video Conferencing to stream their performances to a single page where people can drop in and out of watching, as they please.
Smithwick, working behind the scenes from his Port Richey home, will post links on the videos to each band’s patron accounts, PayPal, or websites so viewers can send in donations.
“I have to ask myself every day when I leave the house, ‘who am I willing to infect today?’ And if the answer is, ‘absolutely no one,’ than I need to be staying at home,” Smithwick said.
“I thought we'd find a way to entertain ourselves and also raise some money for our friends who we know make a living out performing in public and cannot do so.”
Smithwick recommends viewers calculate what they'd spend on drinks, food and cover charges at a bar or music venue on a Saturday night, then donate that to the bands.
He said if he can figure out a way to help out-of-work bartenders and waitresses, he’ll do that, too, possibly by bringing in venues as sponsors for future concerts.
Julie Black of Julie Black and Her Band, which will be performing, said the “arts help keep us going and they help us keep it together. They keep us from feeling alone. They keep us feeling connected in situations like this.”
“What are people doing, when they're home going stir crazy? They're watching movies, they're reading books, they're listening to great music, right?”
Dave Eichenberger, guitarist and composer, thinks the ramifications of livestreaming entire concerts on social media will extend beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is a way that artists can reach a lot of people and we're seeing that you can publicize this, you can monetize it,” Eichenberger said. “Musicians can find a place like where they rehearse and not really leave their area and reach a lot of people all over the world in an immediate way.”
“And with things like Facebook, you can have an immediate contact with your fans and the artists can contact those fans directly.”
Set times and bands as of publication:
5 p.m. - Corey Cottrell, solo acoustic
6 p.m. -Jason Allen, solo acoustic
8 p.m. - Andrew Polo, violinist
9 p.m. - Terrapin, electronica
10 p.m. - Tim Cronin, prog rock
11 p.m. - Christopher Wright, indie
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