In an attempt to begin bringing us together during these difficult days, some of our long-time members have shared their experiences dealing with Covid, Lockdown, Boredom, Creativity, Bubbles, etc. We intend to post a column a week at 10 AM Pacific on Mondays, so be on the lookout! Based on approval from the LL Committee. For guidelines and submission, please contact Julie Zipperer at email@example.com
The Key to Going Global: Never Leaving Home
I just checked our battered old 2019 wall calendar: that year, I played 174 gigs. Many Petty Chavez shows, of course, but also Irish bar gigs, fiddle band shows, events with our five piece British Invasion cover band, acoustic duo gigs, solo shows, etc. I even played a fundraiser at a gibbon sanctuary in Santa Clarita, where the organizers set the stage up between the primate cages: the crowd, quite literally, went ape…
So 2020 was something of an adjustment on the playing live front. With the mid-March lockdown, our livelihood disappeared, overnight. Celia’s entire year of international stadium touring with Enrique Iglesias was postponed, and all of my slightly less glamorous local music scene gigging ceased with immediate effect too.
However, almost straight away, we were lucky to be asked to take part in a live-streaming concert series, run by Ellen Berman in New Jersey. To our great surprise, 1,500 people viewed the two shows, which is at least 1,485 more than we are used to seeing at our more traditional in-person concerts. Perhaps there was something to this internet business after all…
With the help of our FAR-West family (leaning especially on John Zipperer’s technical know-how), since then we have played two lockdown livestream shows a month from the comfort of our own living room: one early evening show for our US friends, and then a noon gig the following day, for fans and family in Europe and the UK.
And, bewilderingly, people keep coming back! It’s still hard to know what to do when we finish a song to total silence, but we have found that so much interaction happens in the chat, we still really feel that essential connection with our audience. We take requests and say hi to people in real time, and then write back to everyone after the show, so what we lose in immediacy of response, we make up for in the intimacy of our interactions.
And people are so kind! We get so much love, praise, heart emojis, tips and encouragement, it’s overwhelming. So thank you, virtual audience, and FAR-Westers, for helping us to feel heard and appreciated, even under these extraordinary circumstances. Keep tuning in, and we will see you soon!
Simon Petty is the slightly more disheveled half of the duo Petty Chavez. He grew up in Manchester, England, and came to California with his band Minibar in 1999, to make their debut album with T Bone Burnett. He likes crosswords, Barn Owls and the songs of Nick Drake.