If there’s any live music happening in Tampa Bay this weekend, you’re not meant to hear it. Virtually all public performances of any kind have been postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Scream “Free Bird!” all you want; it ain’t happening.
What we have in spades, however, are live-streamed concerts. All kinds of performers have taken to the platform of their choice — YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch — to give fans something, anything, they can jam out to. The performances can be glitchy, rambling, unconventional and very much human, and they showcase a side of these artists that you rarely see.
In these early days of our great American shut-in, streaming concerts are being announced so fast that it can be tough to keep up with them all. Check your fave’s social media account to see if they’re planning anything.
Here are some of the best so far. Track them down if you can:
#TogetherAtHome: Global Citizen, a charity aimed at ending extreme poverty, kicked off this daily series with Coldplay’s Chris Martin playing a solo home show and chatting with fans. Since then, John Legend, Charlie Puth, Niall Horan, OneRepublic, Common and more have streamed performances on YouTube, Instagram and other platforms.
Ben Gibbard: The Death Cab for Cutie and Postal Service singer jumped in early, playing request-filled acoustic sets at 7 p.m. Eastern each night. The shows also raise awareness for different charities in the band’s home state of Washington, one of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19.
'Til Further Notice: When Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion Festival got canceled, performers took to Twitch to play songs from their own homes. You could see not just Willie, but Lucinda Williams, Jewel, Nathaniel Rateliff and Paul Simon covering the Everly Brothers with Woody Harrelson.
This weekend, some local artists will join the streaming fray, too.
LISTEN IN: LISTENING ROOM FESTIVAL
Each spring, the Listening Room Network, a St. Petersburg group that connects musicians and homeowners to put on house concerts, stages its own hometown festival, with a host of invite-only local shows and one ticketed concert featuring all artists. When this weekend’s Listening Room Festival was postponed until November due to the coronavirus, it could have sunk founder Fran Snyder. To help business — and other artists — in the short term, he’s pivoting to video. Snyder and five acts from this year’s festival will live-stream performances from their own homes across the United States and Canada. Starting at 7:45 p.m. Friday, 6:45 p.m. Saturday and 3:45 p.m. Sunday, tune into listeningroomnetwork.com to watch performances by Twin Kennedy, Kevin Daniel, Joy Ike, Amy Bishop and the Young Novelists. “Streaming is the immediate answer, and how we’re responding with our network is doing our best to help promote and monetize those events,” Snyder said. “It’s pretty amazing, the resilience and the grit that a lot of these artists are showing. It’s like, ‘Hey, I’ve got to play music, I’ve got to make money. If it’s only $25 or $100 instead of the $1,000 I was hoping, I’m going to make the most of it.’”
SESSIONABLE: THE DREAM STREAM
When the coronavirus shut down the concert industry, Tampa singer-songwriter J.T. Brown basically saw his livelihood dry up. “I’ve wiped out my savings paying a multitude of bills and buying groceries and nonperishables and diapers and the whole nine,” he said. “I’m in serious trouble.” So he reached out to some artist friends to try to do something about it. They connected with organizers of the Tampa Sessions, a streamed series featuring local artists, and set up the Dream Stream, coming at you live from a Temple Terrace office park at 7 p.m. Friday. “We are approaching the production of it like you would a polished, pay-per-view-style event,” Brown said. “We’re hitting all the senses with this.” That includes live painters, artist interviews and features and performances by Brown, Kerry Courtney, Mark Etherington, Forrest Hoffar, Kristopher James, Shawn Kyle, Nick Ewing, Jake Simms, Adam Randall, Erin Murphy and George Pennington III. The Tampa Sessions has organized a handful of virtual open mics to support artists whose shows have been canceled. They’re all free to watch, but they all have digital tip jars, so you can show them some love via Venmo, Paypal, Cash App, Patreon or any other platform. Tune in at facebook.com/tampasessions.