Posted: to General News on Thu, Dec 29, 2022
Updated: Thu, Dec 29, 2022
To Tour or Not to Tour
This Autumn saw me back on the road after nearly 3 years of hunkering down at home. Touring was exhilarating – and thought provoking. Audiences are about half of pre-pandemic levels. Staying healthy is a challenge in this viral season. Ticket sales are down and CD sales are vanishing. And then there’s the carbon footprint. In October Candace & I traveled with Annie Patterson, a 9-concerts-in-12-days tour of the Midwest.
Since Annie travels with multiple instruments and a sound system we needed to take both my car & Candace’s for all our luggage and gear. Close to 3000 miles per vehicle by the time we got home. Hard to justify 6000 miles for 9 concerts. As to the health report, Annie got sick with a heavy cold halfway through and missed a couple of concerts. By a stroke of luck Rick Burkhardt was in the Midwest and was able to fill in for her while she recouped.
After a couple days rest, Annie rallied to perform for the final two gigs in Michigan (you can view the Kalamazoo concert HERE), but it took its toll. It was a long ride home from Kazoo, masked and weary, with Candace & me doing all the driving. The most encouraging sign of the tour was in Ann Arbor where the concert was livestreamed to almost as many people as there were in the hall, holding out promise for good sized audiences for hybrid events. Meanwhile, the experience argues for more virtual concerts, and those are lining up for the new year. More on this later. BUT FIRST...
THE GREAT NORTHEAST STRATEGY. COMING SOON TO A TOWN NEAR YOU?!?
The long drives (8-10 hours some days) and the consumption of the fossil fuels (that are in turn consuming us) argue for more local work. Since my early touring 40+ years ago was launched by cheap airfares (e.g. the 30 day $350 Liberty Fare) I developed an itinerary that took me anywhere I could fly and neglected the places closest to home. So now I’m reaching out to my friends in the Northeast (you know who you are) seeking venues and performance opportunities where I have lived virtually my entire life – New England & eastern NY state. Although I’ve been opting to work with other musicians, for smaller venues (house concerts, libraries, union halls etc.) I can also do solo events. And speaking of libraries, my partner Candace and I do Historical Performance Pieces. The last in-person gigs we did before the pandemic struck were a full week of library performances in the Boston area. We also do these in schools. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have invitations/ideas/suggestions for northeast performance opportunities.
One example would be the 3-day tourlette I did in early December with Rick Burkhardt. We hit Boston, NYC & Cortland, NY for successful concerts. In NYC we filled a hall & had lots of livestream ticket buyers as well. The NYC livestream was recorded, and you can view it here (act 2 here).
In Cortland we were joined by Colleen Kattau for a rousing night of solos, duos & trios. A great end to a lively tourlette, but health wise, not so good. Rick caught a Greyhound home to NYC and caught Covid along with the ride. Yuk! Those online concerts are looking better all the time!
One surprise perk of performing online is the dramatic expansion of my repertoire. I’ve learned and performed over 50 new (to me) songs in the 2 years since I began offering virtual performances. Because I haven’t been going to multiple cities with one set concert, I’ve had to create multiple different concerts. Working with lots of other artists (hard to arrange for in-person events) has challenged me to come up with a whole new list of songs to draw on. For example: on Nov. 27 I hosted Tret Fure for an online “She Sez, He Sez” concert, a musical conversation that gave us a chance to engage one another other in songs that spoke to each other. You can watch and listen here.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE AND ROLLING UP OUR SLEEVES
...(to quote a Rick Burkhardt song, tongue in cheek). I’ve been lining up online performances (and at least one in-person gig) for the first quarter of 2023. And some great artists have agreed to join me, so mark your calendars!
January I’m back working (and hoping) with Rebel Voices in a zoom concert January 22nd. We’re calling it Work & Hope, a theme that informs the song selection. You can see more and reserve your spot here.
In February, anticipating Valentine’s Day, we have a cast of thousands (well, half a dozen) (well, really, five) great singers: Annie Patterson; Hugh Hanley; Colleen Kattau; Eric Law and yours truly - Zooming in to sing the songs of Donovan.
We’ve been singing them together for years and are eager to share them with you. Title of the show: Catch The Wind. If you don’t know why, you don’t know Donovan - one more reason to join us Sunday, Feb. 12th, 7PM.
And March is the time for the Annual St. Patrick’s Day night of Irish Song. This year I am joined by the incomparable singer, instrumentalist, songwriter (and dual Irish citizen!) Joe Jencks.
I’m so grateful (and surprised) that Joe still had this date (Friday, Mar. 17, 8 PM) open on his calendar and will join me for an online Irish songfest. Hope to see you there.
And since one night of Irish isn’t enough, we’re cooking up an in-person show in Easthampton NY with my longtime friend Ken Curtin, Sunday, March 19th. Stay tuned for details.
I am writing this from the retreat Candace and I seek out at the turning of each year, the Weston Priory in snowy VT. Here we have much quiet and time for reflection. Every morning, year-round, I offer thanks for this work, for all of you and for the gift of life, so fragile and resilient. Blessings.