Different online Michigan music events fire up May, including Chris Good’s Sing Me Home shows and five straight nights of stars hosted by Pure Michigan, MLive and PBS’ ‘Under the Radar.’
Concert and festival cancellations continue to pile up due to the coronavirus pandemic, so Michigan musicians, festivals and organizations increasingly have turned to live-stream versions of their performances and events.
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Take the online “Sing Me Home Festival” which kicked off its fourth week of live-stream concerts with Seth Bernard on Sunday — a series that’s featured regional stars such as Traverse City’s May Erlewine and The Accidentals, along with other well-known Michigan artists.
It continues via Facebook Live on Tuesday and again Thursday, when the lineup will include an “in-the-round” session featuring Earthwork Music collective songwriters Samantha Cooper, Elizabeth Pixley-Fink, Amber Hasan, Audra Kubat and Dede Alder.
“There’s nothing that can replace the connection, intimacy and energy of an in-person live music experience. I miss that so much, both as a performer and a music fan,” said Chris Good, an Ann Arbor-based musician and activist who launched the festival last month as a partnership between his band, Friends with the Weather and the Manchester Church of the Brethren.
“But I have to admit that the magic of these live streams has surprised me, like I think it has for many. I’ve witnessed moments of poignant vulnerability, community connection, grace and solidarity, comfort and inspiration.
“I never could’ve imagined having so much of my community and live music experience through my device, yet these moments are undeniably real and powerful as we are all physically distant yet yearning for social connection.”
This week’s live-stream events on the Sing Me Home Festival’s Facebook page include an 11 a.m. Tuesday performance featuring family entertainer and singer-songwriter Chris Dorman, followed by “Acoustic Yoga” with Wild Zen Yoga and Mark Lavengood. On Thursday, the 7 p.m. songwriters-in-the-round session will be followed at 8:30 p.m. by the “Earthwork Music Film Festival” hosted by John Mark Hanson.
Good said the “completely unexpected” online series arose after the COVID-19 crisis ramped up just as he was preparing to announce his inaugural, in-person Sing Me Home Festival planned for October in his hometown of North Manchester, Ind.
“The initial feelings of disappointment and grief that I had when we decided to delay our launch quickly transformed into creative envisioning as we saw an opportunity to live into the festival’s mission in a completely different way than we had ever imagined — while still supporting artists, building community and creating an experience emerging at the crossroads of music, social justice and spirituality,” he reasoned.
“If there ever was a moment to ‘Sing Me Home,’ this is it.”
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All participating artists in the Sing Me Home series receive a paid guarantee thanks to Manchester Church of the Brethren which provided initial seed money for the festival. Viewers can also donate to the cause at singmehome.org.
Sing Me Home – which continues with three live-streams the week of May 11 – is among numerous online concert ventures that have emerged in recent weeks during the state’s stay-at-home environment.
Earthwork Harvest Gathering and Hoxeyville Music Festival have been hosting a weekly “Online Kids’ Concert Series” with Sunday performances aimed at children and encouraging sing-alongs. At 2 p.m. this Sunday (May 10), the series will feature a performance by Lansing music instructor Melissa Sigh, with Elk Rapids’ Brotha James on May 17 and Erlewine on May 24.
Pure Michigan, MLive and PBS’ “Under the Radar” today (Monday) will launch “Come Together: A Relief Effort for Tourism Workers” that begins live-streaming at 7 p.m. Monday (May 4) with performances by East Grand Rapids singer-guitarist Brian Vander Ark of The Verve Pipe and country singer Julianne Ankley. You can watch the show on the Pure Michigan Facebook page.
Detroit Tigers relief pitcher John Schreiber and Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association president Justin Winslow are also on the Monday schedule.
Donations collected online during the evening live-streams support The Michigan Hospitality Industry Employee Relief Fund “to assist those in the tourism industry who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.”
Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, noted the travel industry is experiencing “an incredibly difficult period.” The online entertainment series aims to “spread some joy” while raising funds for a good cause.
Pure Michigan is also selling “Two Peninsulas, One Pure Michigan” T-shirts, with $5 from each purchase going to the relief fund. Hospitality employees across the state are eligible to apply for the funds online at mrlaef.org/relief-fund.
Tuesday night’s performers include Mariachi musician Gabriel Estrada, Greensky Bluegrass members Paul Hoffman and Dave Bruzza and Inside Outlaws singer-guitarist Don “Doop” Duprie. On Wednesday, Traverse City’s The Accidentals and Muskegon-area folk duo Max & Ruth Bloomquist will perform, while Thursday’s lineup features singer-guitarist Gabi Bowditch. The series also features culinary demonstrations and other online presentations.
It all wraps up at 7 p.m. Friday with performances by Grand Rapids gospel artist Marvin Sapp and Detroit-area singer-guitarist Eddie Baranek. Friday night’s live-stream will also feature Sarah and Richard Anderson, co-founders of Thompsonville’s Iron Fish Distillery and Detroit writer Mitch Albom. See the full schedule here.
Chris Good said the live-stream format has captured the imagination of many performers over the past several weeks. And for Sing Me Home, it accomplishes the mission “to restore and inspire the heart, mind and soul.”
“We’ve been blown away by the artists who have enthusiastically participated in the launch,” he said, “and the tremendous engagement from viewers and listeners across the country and the world.”
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