WUMB September Program Guide

The Local Music Corner

Summer is much more my kind of thing. It’s encouraged me over my 23 years in Boston to hear native Bostonians…shall we say…”enthuse” about how they hate Winter. This has had the beneficial effect of letting me, a California emigre, off the hook during nasty cold snaps. As in, it’s not just me.

But this summer has easily been the most brutal of my Boston years. How long did we have a solid heat wave with high humidity, two months? Maybe a couple weeks more? Anybody experience delirious visions of creatures from Venus looking at us saying, “noooo that’s OK, we’ll just stay here at home this summer – where it’s comfortable.” Hey Stevie Wonder, how about making an album for this year called Hotter Than Venus? I still don’t want to give up the summer. But If I don’t see 90+ degrees with high humidity for, hmm, maybe the rest of my life, it’ll be too soon.

Maybe you’ve found yourself coming up with creative ways to feel cooler this summer (besides taking four showers a day). Former Somerville musician Dan Blakeslee has perhaps come up with one. Now residing in the more rent-friendly haven of Rhode Island, Dan has been having Christmas in August. That is, he’s been making an album of Christmas-oriented songs during the August heatwave. Fellow musician and still-hanging-on-in-Somerville resident Amy Kucharik sings on some of the tracks. According to Amy, the album is all original, “…quirky and fun,” some of it being upbeat and some pensive. Which sounds to me like par for the Blakeslee course. And having original songs certainly makes me look more forward to a holiday album. We shall see what Mr. Blakeslee & Company come up with. He is wrapping the project up as we read. This includes the album art. Dan says that the artwork has been difficult to do in a heatwave. But fortunately he started it in January, so he says “it still has that holiday glow.”

Besides the various larger annual summer traditions that have been lost to precautions against COVID, one of the smaller summer moments for me used to be the parking lot of a grocery store across the street from a particular music club. This grocery store used to be 24 hours. So the routine that developed was you go see the band at the club. After the show ended at 1 or 2am, go across the street to the grocery store – then see faces from the club in the check-out line for latenight munchies. Even after the store’s closing moved to Midnight, that parking lot seemed to have a sense of life to it on warm summer nights or in a warm summer night rain. Now you look out at the lot on a summer night and it’s just a random space. Sad.

But this brings up the notion that in the social and occupational COVID situation, bitching about what (for the time being) we cannot change ultimately does not improve things. Like complaining about the Red Sox’s pitching in 2020. We have to change our mindsets to find ways we can operate in this different paradigm.

In the context of being a musician, this has led to online “live” music. You know, “livestreaming” over internet channels (e.g. artists’ You Tube channels, Facebook Live, etc.). While the buzz of audience response is not there with livestreaming, the musician does avoid the vagaries of physical touring. No need to drive six hours to play that club in Philly. No need to unload/load up the gear. No need to put another 15,000 miles on the little old hatchback and its squeaking struts. And what of the tradition of making sure you get paid at the end of the night depending on what kind of club owner you deal with (musicians unfortunately are reputed to sometimes face club owners who don’t do them right)? Thanks to their generous subscribers/tippers, I have heard from at least one musician who has experienced making more money on certain online gigs…and not had to drive, load/unload, get back home at 3am, etc.

So maybe the new way musicians have to do things is not all bad.

Now from your and my perspective as fans, we won’t get the same buzz as feeling that performance in person. We won’t get the same buzz as being out at the show with our friends. But as a musician who spoke with me recently pointed out, in the 21st century what do you see when you look out in the audience? People looking at their phones. People holding up their phones to video the show. People experiencing the show through the 3-inch screens on the back of their phones that they are taking videos with. Not that everyone does this. But you and I have both seen this being “Normal” at live shows.

But let me get off the editorial schneid here. Musician Greg Klyma is embracing the technology in this COVID era and considering the creative possibilities beyond streaming live music. He calls his weekly Thursday night streams “All Together Now.” Sure, he is the host and does most of the entertaining. But besides playing music himself, he has guest musicians, a video segment which was recently added to the show, fun graphics. So in addition to live music streaming, it is potentially a variety type show streamed on the internet…available wherever the proper internet connection is accessible. Speaking of which, here’s where you can find the show: www.youtube.com/KlymaDotCom, www.twitch.tv/SocialKlyma, and www.facebook.com/SocialKlyma.

Again, embracing the possibilities of the technology for our public performing and attending during these days of COVID. As in embracing the possibilities of what we can do, more than wallowing in what we can’t do. I guess it takes a pandemic to switch our frame of mind to that.

Congratulations and thanks to all you musicians who are doing livestreams of your shows and staying creative. Good luck to all of us that we may keep doing what we can.

Although I still don’t know what the Red Sox are doing about their pitching….

~ Perry Persoff


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