How Sonoma County musicians are sharing their performances during the coronavirus shutdown
The creative impulse cannot be denied. With no gigs to play, no museums open and all the theaters dark, our musicians, artists and actors go right on sharing their talents, simply because they must.
With the public ordered to shelter in place during the coronavirus crisis, artists of all kinds have turned to social media to find a stage for their performances.
The blues and bluegrass band Dirty Cello, an internationally-touring five-piece ensemble, plays more than a hundred shows a year. Now stuck at home, two Dirty Cello members - the husband-and-wife team of cellist and vocalist Rebecca Roudman and guitarist Jason Eckl - decided to create an online progressive concert.
“We’re midway through a Facebook Live stream with an interesting twist,” Roudman said. “We’re doing two songs a night for one week to create a 14-song concert which we’ll then make into a full concert YouTube video.”
You can follow their progress at Facebook.com/dirtycellomusic.
For Sonoma-based Royal Jelly Jive, canceled shows have inspired the eclectic band to perform online.
“Though our gigs are canceled, we still have work to do. In times of crisis, musicians have always been there to fill the chaotic air with melodies of relief,” said Lauren Bjelde, lead singer of Royal Jelly Jive.
“Like the marching band leading an army into war, or the string section playing as the Titanic sank to her demise, there is still a place for us on the frontline of catastrophe.
“We had to cancel a big Royal Jelly tour and now have no shows until further notice. With the current state of emergency, musicians are flooding social media platforms - for the good of the people and also for their own survival,” Bjelde added. “After playing big concerts like BottleRock, it’s very humbling to be playing for tips and donations as we virtually busk the digital street, much like we used to on Haight Street years ago. “We’re trying. It’s more true than ever for us that the show must go on.”
See and hear the band perform at https://bit.ly/3buhX2K
Sebastian Saint James of Petaluma, leader of the Highway Poets band, has brought his music online, creating a new community in the process.
“Like everyone, I’ve found myself at home doing what I can to keep a good vibe going in my home, since my gigs have all been canceled or postponed through April and that is a serious part of my family’s income,” he said.
“I started to write lyrics/poetry through Facebook with followers and friends to help shine a little light in this darkening time,” he said.
He pairs lyrics he has adapted from poetry - written by people online in response to a request he posted - with chords and melody.
Then he posts those tracks online as raw material for other home studio musicians, encouraging them to combine it with their own performances and send their tracks back to Saint James.
The working title is “The Shelter in Place Project” at sebastiansaintjames.com.
For his own online performance, guitarist Nate Lopez decided to act exactly as he would at a live show, dressed to the part.
“I have one scheduled for ?6 p.m. Friday on Facebook Live. I would normally be gigging at Ricardo’s in Santa Rosa. So instead, I wanted to not just go online and play, but shave, dress up, set up my gear and give an actual private concert in people’s living rooms.”
Here’s the link: https://bit.ly/3aonU10
Theater goes online
Musicians aren’t the only artistic folks scrambling to reach an audience now. With the local live theater companies compelled to close their doors, leaders are left to search for alternatives.
“We at the 6th Street Playhouse are looking into - as in getting all the pieces in place for - a live streaming of our recent production of ‘Sweeney Todd,’ which had to close after just one week of performances.
At this time, a few more hurdles have to be gotten over, but we are working on those,” said Jared Sakren, artistic director of the company, located in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square. Check 6thstreetplayhouse.com for updates.
In Sebastopol, Keith Baker of the Main Stage West company said April performances online may be down the road.
“We are speaking with some of our regular performers about putting on readings of Shakespeare and other plays in the public domain via Twitch during some weekends in April.
But this is all uncharted territory,” he said. You can check on those efforts at mainstagewest.com.
Even with museums and galleries closed, art lovers can still find what they want.
The Museum of Sonoma County in Santa Rosa is closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see the newest exhibit there, of inspiring painting and photography celebrating nature, “Landscape: Awe to Activism.” Luckily for art lovers at home, the museum did some legwork before the doors closed.