Live music has long been a staple in the Methow. Genres span the gamut: rhythm and blues, country, chamber, Celtic, funk, jazz, electronic, rock and roll, hip-hop, among others. Talented musicians abound in the valley, ever ready to share a song. Whether at local eateries, in a field, on a hill, in a park, in the Mazama Country Inn garden, or at the venerable Winthrop Barn, people have long gathered to listen to music — a way to feel good and to connect.
What does this new world look like for live music and musicians?
February 3, 1959, has long been dubbed “The Day the Music Died” when young rock and roll pioneers Buddy Holly (22), Ritchie Valens (17), J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson (28), and the pilot died in a snowy plane crash in a field in Iowa. The tragedy shocked the music world when rock and roll was in its infancy.
With the uncertainty of the timing of the return of live music events, let alone what they will look like, musicians have wondered if the snarky coronavirus has yet another victim — gatherings to listen to music.
The dominoes began to fall in mid-March with cancellations and postponements of music events large and small. It seems unlikely that festivals and concerts will exist at all in 2020 and perhaps beyond. Maybe events like a Century Link Rolling Stones concert with tens of thousands of fans shoulder to shoulder will be a relic of days gone by.
With the music industry taking such a hard hit, I questioned a small record label co-owner from Seattle (who also happens to be my son) about the response to this crisis by music artists and the large periphery of industry support.
Skyler Locatelli’s Freakout Records was on the cusp of “dropping” three different artists’ vinyl this spring. Live shows and festivals that are an integral part of the process were canceled left and right. The three groups with new releases — Acid Tongue, Smokey Brights and Grizzled Mighty — initially scrambled with what direction to take to bring their music to their fans and pay the upfront bills of producing a record. They were quick to “pivot.”
“The new industry buzz word,” says Skyler, “is ‘pivot.’ The first pivot for musicians was to turn to virtual concerts.” He relates that creativity has been abundant in figuring out ways to reach an audience and merchandise their wares. Multiple online platforms are being used, including TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram Live, and artists’ own websites. Not the same vibe as a live show, but still a connection.
Spokane-based Carter Junction, a husband-and-wife duo, played at The Methow Valley Ciderhouse last year in conjunction with Hank Cramer’s St. Patrick’s Day event. One of husband Clinton’s songs called “Simpler Time” seems appropriate for these days. He describes the song as about “a life connected to the land, hard work, and family.”
I reached out to wife Sarah to see how they were doing during this time. She responded that they have been staying at their little cabin in Idaho, hoping that “the world opens up” by Memorial Day weekend for their next show in Baker City, Oregon. Hope springs eternal.
Our hope is to see marquis around the valley once again advertise “Live Music Tonight” with Ken Bevis, Buz Brose, Lauralee Northcott, Honey and the Killer Beez, Laura Love and the Family Dog, or any other of our local artists. We miss you all!
In other news of cancellations, the World Famous Pancake Breakfast sponsored by Mazama Community Club is off the calendar for 2020. As with many events that are fundraisers, the breakfast has been a major source of funds for the maintenance of the historic club building.
Club member Nancy Kuta shared the following: “The MCC board is hoping to attract new members to offset the loss of revenue and hope that current members will consider an extra donation with their yearly dues. The MCC is available for rental to members at a nominal fee. Also, there is child play equipment, a basketball hoop, and a pickleball court available for members to use. More information on how to become a member is available at http://www.mazamacommunityclub.com.”