Last Saturday night, local singer-songwriter Matt Eckstine performed his second “shed concert” streamed live via Facebook.
In the relaxed confines of his own shed, Eckstine punctuated his 100-minute performance with stories, greetings and banter.
Just a couple of clicks away, Reverend Bro Diddley and the Hips was performing live at the new Facebook page Quarantine Concerts. My Do colleague Adriana Iris Boatwright has already previewed Bero Bero’s show at Quarantine Concerts coming up on April 1.
And then on Sunday, Jason Bible of The Train Wrecks performed live for an online audience. Within a day, more than 500 people had viewed his 30-minute set.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the #LiveFromHome series of performances launched by musician Chris Thile’s “Live from Here,” but I did not anticipate how quickly the idea of online performances would take off or how quickly similar shows would be embraced on a local level.
As I write this column, the great John Prine is in critical condition with COVID-19 symptoms. Within hours of the news, we began seeing tributes to him, like the wonderful rendition of “Angel from Montgomery” that Ruthie Foster performed from her front yard on Monday.
Ezra Furman, who is one of my favorite musicians for these strange days, has been posting daily “Social Distance Covers,” an eclectic selection of songs by musicians who have been major influences, from The Shins and The White Stripes to John Cale and Randy Newman.
On Monday, Furman covered Prine’s “Mexican Home”:
“He’s a great great songwriter in a simple and gorgeous sense,” Furman said of Prine, “an artist who seems to include everyone, unpretentiously and unshowily capturing some of the best stuff of the human heart.”
Again and again, I’ve been struck by the lack of pretension of these online performances – and by the spirit of inclusion.
The artists are adapting to their simplified venues and to their new audiences, which are comprised of people who are sitting at home themselves.
I don’t have any kids, am in relatively good health and have a little money to spend, but many folks are not so mobile. As musicians and music lovers adjust to these new realities, we could see a new commitment to inclusion.
We can find analogous situations in the online art instruction, writing groups, book clubs and similar efforts. People who were too often excluded by distance and disability can become part of new communities.
The big caveat here is that many people do not have consistent internet access. Perhaps this crisis will force us to address that issue in substantive ways.
We can certainly carry some of these good things with us when life starts to return to a normal in a few weeks, months or however long it takes.
Bill Dawers writes City Talk in Savannah Morning News and blogs at hissing lawns (www.hissinglawns.com). Email firstname.lastname@example.org.