Live Jazz In A Streaming World

August 30, 2020
Empty Stage Waiting For Music

COVID19 has kicked musicians in the teeth since it reared its head and anyone who works with, or for, musicians has also felt its wrath. Adding to this list is anyone who loves to listen to musicians play in a live setting. So, that’s pretty well everyone then. All of us!

No concert halls. No clubs. No festivals. No music. No fun. No life.

Then came a call from Jazz Winnipeg, which normally hosts its signature festival in Winnipeg every June. Executive Director Angela Heck and Artistic Producer Michael Wolch came up with a plan to showcase six acts, each of them to play live together, but not in a Zoom virtual setting. This would be staged with no audience present at the Alt Hotel in downtown Winnipeg, recorded and then released via livestream on Jazz Winnipeg’s Facebook page and later on YouTube. Ivan Hughes would be the videographer and I was asked if I would record the audio. I was as hungry to hear someone perform live as anyone else who has been in lockdown since March. Of course I agreed!

But the pandemic was/is not over. How were we to make this safe?

Laurie Barkman, the GM of the Alt Hotel, showed us the precautions that they were taking for their clientele and staff. We, the crew, were a skeleton staff – Michael, the producer, Ivan, the videographer, a still photographer for the festival, a production assistant, and me.

That left the musical groups that we were to record. We could keep a safe distance from them but we had to trust that each group was their own “bubble”. In order to keep them safe from each other, I ensured that every mic that came in contact with a musician had a freshly opened wind sock that was only to be used once. I had a fresh container of wipes to sanitize equipment as necessary. We hoped that these precautions would be enough to ensure safety for cast and crew alike.

To say the the “Live From The Alt Hotel” series was fun is to greatly understate it. The musicians were positively hungry to play together again after 4 months of lockdown. For us, the production crew, it was a much needed shot in the arm. Everyone was ecstatic to be at work again.

And the fun was back, if only for a short time.

You can check out the Jazz Winnipeg “Live From The Alt Hotel” series with the following links:

Kelly Bado:

Will Bonness Quintet:

Sheena Rattai:

Curtis Newton:

Len Bowen:

The Apollo Suns:

Jazz Winnipeg Facebook/Videos:

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