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Viewers really appreciate musicians’ at-home concerts

Published on

Tara Jeffrey

Joan Spalding knew she wanted to keep performing after the pandemic forced the closure of her usual concert venues — she just didn’t quite know how.

“It came to me in a dream, believe it or not,” said the local singer-songwriter. “I live for my fans and followers… I knew I needed to bring the music to them.”

So, with limited computer experience, she set up a microphone and camera in her Plympton-Wyoming home on April 1, picked up her guitar, and hoped for the best.

She chose one song to play — Lynn Anderson’s Mama Spank —and by the end, she was crying.

“Take care and be safe,” Spalding told her viewers through tears that day. “So I can still play with you guys.”

The stress of isolation, and not knowing when she’d ever perform for a crowd again, had been weighing heavy.

“It was a release, I guess,” she said, noting that first video had more than 500 views.

Comments started pouring in from grateful viewers who said the video was a bright spot in a dark time.

She decided to keep going, and hasn’t stopped since. Every day, beginning at 3:30 p.m., Spalding streams a solo concert from her music room. She’s added a few more instruments — harmonica, banjo, mandolin and piano — and catered her playlist for occasions like Mother’s Day and Canada Day; even taking special requests for birthdays and anniversaries.

“I think I’m on day 96 or 97,” she said last week, adding her videos, which have earned thousands of views, have become a daily routine for some. She plans to keep playing well into the summer.

“You have no idea what your music means to us every day,” one viewer posted.

“This is the only way I know of giving to everyone, and helping them cope,” Spalding replied.

“If they can take their minds off it for five minutes and have a smile on their face — well, that means an awful lot.”

That sentiment was echoed by Scott Manery, whose weekly ‘Self Isolation Shows,’ also streamed live on Facebook from his home studio, became an unexpected escape for hundreds of viewers who tuned in every Saturday night.

“Every nice comment people left made me realize that I was doing the right thing,” said Manery, who, beginning March 21 through to last weekend, played two-hour shows, taking requests and even learning a few new tunes on his guitar.

”I’m used to performing with my band (the Barnburmers) and feeding off the audience … it’s tough to just sit there by yourself and play to a camera,” he said.

“I was just trying to give folks something fun to look forward to, hopefully give people a chance to not think about COVID-19, if only for a couple of hours.”

Many viewers said the show helped them get through the week, gave them something to look forward to, and even became a new ‘date night’ tradition.

“Your show is the bright spot in our week,” one fan posted. “Thank you for your gift of music.”

Local musicians have found various ways to reach online audiences.

A Facebook groups started by Sarnia’s Kevin Churchill called The Quarantine Sessions – Connecting Through Music, is popular with players and music fans alike.

It currently has about 18,500 members.

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