Art Matters montbleau

Ryan Montbleau, whose music is far reaching, but whose roots are in New England, is just one of the many performers who have been performing in empty venues and streaming the concerts on line.

Luke Vose wrote last week about his band, Crooked Coast, performing live in an empty Grumpy’s Pub on purpose in order to live-stream a concert to the band’s fans at home.

I was one of the 1,000-plus fans who tuned in live to listen. By the next day the concert had been viewed by more than 5,000 people.

Welcome to live music in a time of social distancing. And while a live concert may not have the same raw energy when viewed from an iPad in the kitchen while cleaning up from dinner, surely I’m not alone when I raise my hand and say, “I’ll take it!”

After that first concert I watched a replay of the St. Patrick’s Day virtual hooley by Rare Ould Times, a local group that features Kevin McGeough on guitar, Jack Dolan on bodhrán and Amy Larkin on fiddle, with all three providing vocals.

During the hour-long set the trio performed spirited renditions of both traditional and modern Irish singer/songwriters. The trio even took requests. Mr. Dolan sang a lovey rendition of “Danny Boy,” despite some self-deprecating comments before the song.

Next I watched an acoustic performance by Ryan Montbleau, which looked like it was performed from the comfort of his cozy living room. The musician was sincere and welcoming and for something coming at one remotely, the performance felt extremely intimate.

Mr. Montbleau is perhaps best known for his cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” but also for original songs including “75 And Sunny,” “Songbird” and “Bright Side,” which are played regularly on MVY Radio. While he wasn’t requesting donations for the show, Mr. Montbleau had t-shirts for sale (they had sold out by the end of the performance), with proceeds from the sale benefiting the group MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund to help musicians in need. Like Crooked Coast, the video had upwards of 5,000 views by the next day.

“My night was blah until you did this,” reads one online comment. “No line at the bathroom,” reads another.

At the end of the concert Mr. Montbleau thanked his audience and wished everyone well. “Do what’s best for everyone, stay put for a while,” he said.

Since that concert on Friday, Mr. Montbleau played a concert for Higher Ground in Vermont. In that concert he performed a cover of the Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton duet, “Islands in the Stream.” Mr. Rogers died on March 20.

On a smaller scale, local musician Bruce Marshall is posting “quarantine classic videos” on his website. His first post was a smooth and jazzy rendition of Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”

It seems like lots of musicians are taking to the internet to get their music out there. The result for listeners is not only being able to enjoy some quality music, but also a much-needed feeling of connection—the thing that’s missing as we all take social distancing to heart.

Now for a confession.

The only time I’ve seen Crooked Coast perform was when it gave its outdoor block party concert opposite the Brother's Rye in Woods Hole. I’ve never seen Rare Olde Tunes perform live, ditto for Ryan Montbleau and Bruce Marshall. I used to head out at 9:30 PM for live music at Liam Maguire’s but that was some time ago, so the plethora of musicians posting live concerts, coupled with my lack of a need to go out at night, that is, theater, sports and scouting events all canceled, has created the perfect storm of opportunity for myself and others to tune into some bands and performers that we might have been wanting to see and hear but haven’t yet. Am I glad to be stuck at home during a pandemic because I get to listen to a few bands that I’ve been wanted to hear? Well—no. But it’s the best thing to a silver lining that I’ve found so far.

Take some time to “like” all your favorite bands on Facebook, along with some bands you aren’t familiar with yet—hopefully this will lead to you being notified of upcoming online events. And while performers weren’t asking for monetary donations yet, it might not be a bad thing to consider in the future. I figured out Zoom so my 6th grader could videoconference with his classmates. Surely I can tackle the virtual tip jar.

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