By Mckenzie Moore
With in-person concerts unable to take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Blue Sage Center for the Arts has come up with a new way to bring music to the community in the form of Happy Hour livestream concerts.
Every Wednesday and Friday at 7 p.m., the Blue Sage livestreams the performances of local musicians on its Facebook page. Previous performances drew hundreds of online views, and Christi Gubser’s performance on May 1 raised over $500 in donations to the Blue Sage.
“We’ve got a bunch of local musicians lined up, and it’s quite a variety of styles they each have. Some people are doing duets and some are going solo, and it’s mostly original music as well,” said Tony Soto, MC for the series and the one who coordinated all the performers.
The videos of the performances are available on the Blue Sage’s Facebook page even after the streams have ended, so in addition to people tuning in live, community members can watch the concerts in their own time.
Comments on the videos also show the community’s positive response to the concerts.
Soto’s performance was the first to launch the series, but technical difficulties ensued. Since then, improvements have been made to improve the sound quality and accessibility of the performances.
“My show was the first one. We tried using the mixing board and plugged directly into the computer, but everyone was hearing nothing but static. It was pretty chaotic,” Soto said. “I’m actually buying professional streaming equipment and it should be really good quality. It should be smooth sailing from now on.”
While the current lineup goes until June 12, Soto said that more concerts may be set up to continue throughout the pandemic. He hopes that by providing music to the North Fork Valley, it will give musicians an outlet as well as connecting the community.
“All of us musicians are everyday sitting here, thinking hard about what else we can do to provide music and keep playing for people… There’s so much more talent in this valley that we’re not going to run out of musicians,” Soto said. “This community, especially Paonia, is chock full of musicians. The whole valley thrives on music and arts. Without that, people are going crazy, and musicians are going crazy without being able to play.”
With social media full of a steady stream of COVID-19 developments, Soto hopes the livestream concerts will provide a break from the difficult circumstances the community is facing.
“We are here to provide a live outlet and everyone on both sides wins,” Soto said. “I hope it’ll give people some relief from constantly being bombarded with bad news. [I hope] it’s a way for everyone to escape, to dance around or close their eyes and listen to music.”
For the remainder of the Blue Sage Happy Hour lineup, Gabrielle Louise will perform on May 20, Sam Heart and Carrie Elizabeth will perform on May 22, Steve Clisset will perform on May 27, John Hutchinson will perform on May 29, Hard Pressed will perform on June 3, Josh Livaudais will perform on June 5, Tony Soto and Josh Livaudais will perform on June 10 and Josh Bourassa will perform on June 12.
Soto is currently looking at additional venues and options for getting music out to the community. More information about the Blue Sage Center for the Arts and upcoming events can be found at bluesage.org.