Local Spins today debuts videos probing the unique advantages of live-stream concerts from a real stage as gauged by musicians Ralston Bowles and Michael Crittenden, and SCMC’s Cathy Holbrook.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The “Comeback Road” video series examines the plight of West Michigan concert venues and musicians amid COVID-19. Today, filmmakers David Darling, Michael Whitenack and Kari Cohen, in partnership with Local Spins’ John Sinkevics, spotlight how live-stream concerts have invigorated St. Cecilia Music Center and kept the venue connected to its audience. And the same is true for musicians like Ralston Bowles and Michael Crittenden, who last month kicked off St. Cecilia’s virtual folk and blues series which continues tonight. Scroll down for the video interviews.
From the perspective of Grand Rapids’ St. Cecilia Music Center, it’s “a no-brainer.”
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From the perspective of performing artists, it’s a terrific opportunity to play “an actual venue” as opposed to sitting in their bedroom with a smartphone.
Live-stream concerts have found favor over the past year amid a global pandemic that’s silenced bands and venues – at least, when it comes to filling seats with live audiences.
Grand Rapids St. Cecilia Music Center, which hosts West Michigan’s King Biscuit Trio in a live-stream concert tonight as part of a 2021 folk and blues series, has reveled in putting local and regional artists on its historic Royce Auditorium stage while fans watch the action from their computers and mobile devices.
And the venue has done it by investing in high-quality production, with Marshall Yoder’s high-tech video team Captus Creative providing the live images beamed to spectators at home.
St. Cecilia’s executive and artistic director Cathy Holbrook said she “took the bull by the horns and we’re just going to do a lot of these virtual shows. We do have a beautiful stage and we need to have live music coming off of that one way or another.”
Her comments came during pre-concert video interviews conducted as part of the “Comeback Road” series ahead of a St. Cecilia live-stream starring Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Ralston Bowles and Troll for Trout frontman and producer Michael Crittenden. Both artists praised the pristine venue where they’ve played for in-person audiences before but where no fans were present for their Jan. 21 show.
“As far as not playing for an audience, that’s nothing new,” joked Crittenden, who hadn’t performed in concert for a year due to the COVID crisis.
“I was excited to get this opportunity tonight because it’s one of my favorite rooms to play. It’s an actual venue. It’s not me sitting in my bedroom with an iPhone.”
Bowles added that musicians are fortunate that technology allows them to continue performing in virtual fashion during a pandemic that’s shut down venues.
“Some people have found that it actually is more convenient and … they have a farther reach with it than they would have in regular touring,” he said.
And while the lack of immediate feedback from fans has its drawbacks, both said there’s nothing like performing in a venue revered for its acoustics.
“It’s still a great sounding room and it feels good to play in a real venue,” Crittenden said. “It feels like a real gig if you close your eyes.”
Check out the full interviews with Crittenden, Bowles and Holbrook about the impact of the COVID crisis on live music, as well as St. Cecilia’s plans for the coming year. And tune in to tonight’s live-stream performance by Grand Rapids’ King Biscuit Trio at 7 p.m. (Feb. 18). Get details online here.
VIDEO: Comeback Road – Ralston Bowles & Michael Crittenden
VIDEO: Comeback Road – St. Cecilia Music Center’s Cathy Holbrook
The Local Spins review of the January Bowles/Crittenden concert: Surreal, awkwardly silent but inspiring: Audience-less live-streams bridge COVID gap
Check out more “Comeback Road” videos at Local Spins here.
Copyright 2021, Spins on Music LLC