The future of our local music scenes is uncertain. Will we ever be able to gather in large groups again? Are small clubs and bars a thing of the past? Who knows? But the truth is, we still need live music in our brains, and we still need to rock and roll, so how do we do that when we can’t gather? Well, kids, welcome to the New Age of the music industry, Live Stream shows via the Internet.
I like to say, “When the going gets wacky, the wacky people get creative and innovative.” It seems that the new version of a “live music venue” is in our own backyards, literally. Backyard (or garage, front porch or front yard) live streams are the new clubs, the lawn or patio is the latest idea of a stage and countless viewers sitting at home with their computers are the modern audiences. The simplicity of cell phone technology has made it massively easy to bring people together to experience music, now that’s what I call making the best of a bad situation.
In Marin County’s tiny town of San Anselmo, musician John Olmsted has created an excellent venue in his backyard, gathering local bands to play for an hour or so to an online audience. Bay Area ska/funk crew Soul Ska put on a performance this last week that was buoyant and high energy as any show they’d ever done in a regular venue. The band has been on hiatus like everyone else, and playing together for the first time in months was both joyful with hints of grief, as we realized how different things are now. “This whole pandemic has shown how quickly the things that we hold dear can be taken away, which reminds us to make the most of every moment of life,” states Soul Ska founder and keys player Jonathan Korty. “When Soul Ska played our last show at Elbo Room Oakland in February, we had no idea we wouldn’t see each other until June! So it was so nice to get back together and share the music that binds us.”
The show was widely enjoyed by almost 1,000 people tuning in, not too mention the addition of neighbors in the vicinity clapping, cheering, and peaking over the fence. “It’s a very different experience to play music and not know who or how many people are watching,” states Korty. “We are used to feeding off the crowd energy as we play, so it is obviously not the same, but until we can congregate again - this will have to do. We thank John Olmstead and The Backyard Sessions for making it possible and everyone who tuned in. We are going to make it a monthly thing - stay tuned and stay safe.”