Dozens of local musicians will take part in the Rochester Livestream Music Festival this weekend
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For musicians, as with just about everyone else, the coronavirus pandemic has meant major disruption. No more playing out — gatherings are restricted and venues are shuttered. It means a loss of income, both immediate and possibly longer term as fans may have less disposable income for music purchases, concerts and the like.
“Things are in flux — it’s a constantly moving river of change,” said Matthew Ramerman, a drummer and recording engineer who owns The Green Room recording studio in Rochester. “We’ve got to ride it and see how we land.”
Riding those rapids can be a little more bearable, and enjoyable, with the catharsis and community that comes from live performance — even if the audience is in dozens of separate living rooms. This weekend, a sizable swath of the Rochester area music community will come together — so to speak — to present three days of live-streamed concerts in what Ramerman and other organizers are calling the Rochester Livestream Music Festival.
The streams run Friday through Sunday, April 3-5, and run until late in the evening. They include artists from a number of genres and stylings: R&B, indie rock, jazz and more. Plans are for each of the sets to be streamed on the Facebook pages of several music venues as well as the individual artists.
Live-streaming to such a degree represents “kind of a new frontier,” Ramerman said — one with challenges and frustrations, but also bringing excitement and anticipation.
“When COVID-19 had started hurting local businesses — I’ve been active in the community for a number of years, and I went to a meeting with a lot of the venue owners,” he said. That was back when small gatherings, 50 or fewer, were still being allowed, and they had the idea of a streaming festival in which the performers would all play at a given venue or venues to be streamed on the net. That fell apart when the limit was cut to 20 — there already were logistical headaches, but that ended it.
In its initial framework, anyway: “I thought, ‘We could still do this thing — we don’t need a physical venue.’” He put the word out among the artists in his circles — those who were signed on for the original plan, anyone else he could contact through Facebook callouts and the like. And he ended up with 46 acts — so far; there were still some TBA slots to fill as of Wednesday.
“Right now it’s snowballing into a really major movement — we’re really excited about it,” Ramerman said.
The sets will be simulcast on the Facebook pages of a number of Rochester venues — some are still being confirmed, but he mentioned Three Heads Brewing, Abilene Bar & Lounge, Flour City Station and The Lovin’ Cup. As well, they will be on the individual artists’ pages.
Setting up an event of this magnitude involves all manner of logistical, technical and scheduling challenges. There are the usual challenges of booking acts for any kind of multi-act event, whether live or streamed, which gets more complicated when the musicians number in the several dozens. In this case, there are also the technical challenges of making sure everyone’s streams are showing up in the right places.
“That’s been a really exciting — and frustrating — journey,” said Ramerman. But not one that he’s made alone: He mentioned Mike Dejure and Beau Ryan as being instrumental on the technical issues of getting the streaming set up, and Three Heads Brewing’s Geoff Dale for his promotional efforts.
Various musicians have been doing the occasional live stream for years, of course, though it generally hasn’t been a major element of concert calendars. That may be changing after COVID-19, Ramerman speculates.
“It’s a new era here of music, and what we’re doing is new to us in every way — and also exciting because of it,” he said. “I don’t think this is going away. I think even after this crisis ends, I see streaming being another aspect of live music” — one that the music industry is being forced to acknowledge is a legitimate and important alternate avenue.
In the meantime, they’re getting ready to strike up the bands this weekend — a lot of them.
Here’s the festival schedule as it stood as of Wednesday, with streams on artist Facebook pages and the venues above, among other sites. (According to the Rochester Livestream Music Festival page, hosts include Three Heads Brewing, 93.1 The Zone, Greenstream, The Lovin’ Cup, Floated: Alternative Culture Magazine, Abilene Bar and Lounge, Krit Upra, Flour City Station and Photo City Improv.)
FRIDAY, APRIL 3
1:30 p.m.: Siena
2 p.m.: Camp Roc Star
2:30 p.m.: Ben Rossi and Jackson Rick
3 p.m.: Max Flansburg from Dirty Blanket
3:30 p.m.: Matt Stephens from Dial Up
4 p.m.: Don Christiano and Rita Coulter
4:30 p.m.: Fran Broderick from Left-Handed Second Basemen
5 p.m.: Big Logic & The Truth Serum
6 p.m.: Corey Owens Cooking Show
7 p.m.: Teagan Ward and Katy Wright from Teagan & The Tweeds
8 p.m.: Eli Flynn from Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
9 p.m.: Mikaela Davis
10 p.m.: Seth Faergolzia
11 p.m.: Collin Jones/Stereo Nest
Midnight: Logan McKinney
SATURDAY, APRIL 4
11:30 a.m.: Josh Pincus
Noon: Benton Sillick of Anamon
12:30 p.m.: Charlie Lindner
1 p.m.: Jackson Cavalier
1:30 p.m.: Rachel “Ragechill” Kroft
2 p.m.: Camp Roc Star
2:30 p.m.: Jimmie Highsmith
3 p.m.: Aaron Lipp
4 p.m.: Mike Delure
4:30 p.m.: Neil Van Dorn Trio
5 p.m.: Brandon Sheffer from Mochester, Honey & Vinegar
5:30 p.m.: Chris English
6 p.m.: Mike Gladstone from Junkyard Fieldtrip
6:30 p.m.: Pete Griffith
7 p.m.: Kurt Johnson of The Moho Collective
8 p.m.: Danielle Ponder
9 p.m.: Alex Cote
10 p.m.: Charlie Lindner
10:30 p.m.: Brendon Caroselli
11 p.m.: HIP-HOP Encore Artist Features
SUNDAY, APRIL 5
Noon: Josh Massicot
12:30 p.m.: Tom Mahoney
1 p.m.: Sarah Eide
1:30 p.m.: Ken Columbo
2 p.m.: Camp Roc Star
2:30 p.m.: Herb Heins
3 p.m.: Mike Edwards
3:30 p.m.: Mike Muscarella of Violet Mary
4 p.m.: Adrien D’Angelo
4:30 p.m.: Charles Miller
5 p.m.: Josh Netsky of Maybird
6 p.m.: Eric Carlin
7 p.m.: Amy Montrois and Jon Sheffer
8 p.m.: Ray Mahar from A Girl Named Genny
9 p.m.: Alan Murphy of The Mighty High and Dry
10 p.m.: Sam Snyder from Maybird, OHS
11 p.m. HIP-HOP Encore Artist Features
Check the Rochester Livestream Music Festival Facebook page for any updates to the schedule.
And there's more
Matthew Ramerman isn't kidding when he says the music industry as a whole is discovering the virtues of live streaming as a way to connect with audiences during this time of isolation. NPR is keeping a running list of line virtual concerts coming up from artists around the world, and there's quite a few of them. A "Live from Our Living Rooms" jazz festival, featuring Chick Corea, Bill Frisell and many more, is running April 1-7, with proceeds from donations going toward performance grants to New York City musicians whose careers have been impacted by COVID-19. Blues-rockers (and frequent CMAC act) Tedeschi-Trucks Band streams Thursday night (April 2) on Facebook. The Violin Channel website hosts assorted streams featuring, of course, violinists. AMC's presenting an "Our Country" live stream featuring Sheryl Crow, Little Big Town, Miranada Lambert and more Sunday on CBS All Access. That's just to name a few.
Find NPR's listing at shorturl.at/epxY3.
6x6 deadline extended
Rochester Contemporary Art Center has extended until April 25 its deadline for accepted artwork for the summer's 6x6 exhibit of 6-inch by 6-inch pieces, which line all the gallery's walls (with the artist kept anonymous). The exhibit usually draws artists from all walks of life and around the globe.
Locals may drop their submissions off at curbside; they must have a filled-out entry form with them. (Download those at roco6x6.org.) You may pull up in front of RoCo (137 East Ave., Rochester) or in front of Christ Church between noon and 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, put on your flashers, and call 585-461-2222.
6x6x2020 is tentatively scheduled for June 6 through July 12 at Rochester Contemporary Art Center, 137 East Ave., Rochester.