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Bringing back the music

Local musicians weigh in on their slow, cautious return to the stage
Music-Photo-by-Justa-Jeskova_-Tourism-Whistler-
Concerts might look a little different this summer, but musicians are finding their way back to the stage.

Life is beginning to settle into a new normal for the summer and with it comes a return to live music. 

Pique caught up with a few local musicians who have returned to the stage to find out more about what the last few months have been like—and what they hope for the season ahead. 

Monty Biggins

2019-43_monty-biggins-1-copyMonty Biggins.

Pique: What was your first gig back and what was the experience like?  

First gig back was a backyard party for nurses in Squamish. It was wonderful: small, intimate and a very appreciative audience.  

The second gig was at Alpine Cafe. I’d say it was the official first gig back as it was the first one in a venue. Funnily enough, the last gig I played before the lockdown was also at Alpine Cafe. It’s my backyard neighbourhood cafe. Martini and the crew at the café are wonderful and it was amazing to see my friends and neighbours and all the familiars.  

It was pouring rain, we were under a tent and more and more people kept showing up. You could see how badly everyone had missed it, and it made for such great vibes!  

Pique: What have the last three months been like for you musically?  ​

The last three months have been a rediscovery of the strange and weird world of music composition. Being a regular gigging musician, I would add in new songs as time allowed and based on what a venue needs, or what the sound of my product is. With no gigs, and so much time, I found myself producing music in different genres, fully recording and composing the ideas.

I don't like performing online as much as live. I did two livestream gigs and the rest of the time I recorded and released recordings. I did some in the rockabilly jazz themes I do, and explored reggae and reggaeton ideas. I did mostly originals and a few covers rearranged to my liking. I also released a five-song EP which I put on Youtube through my Neon Beige banner which explores experimental EDM, hip hop and synth-based compositions. The collection is called Whee! I released over a dozen recordings, mostly through Facebook posts and Youtube.

Pique: What are your musical plans for the summer?

I got a job as a GM for a retail shop. CERB was running out and I used to manage shops before becoming a professional musician. I took the leap so that I could maintain my life in Whistler, and not have to worry about the return of gigs right away. My goal for this summer is to take on gigs as people ask me. I hope to run a few more karaoke nights as we just did a test run on Canada Day at the Crystal Lounge and it went very well.

I'm also working on some recordings with Kostaman, and doing some of my own recordings. Music is life. Gigs or not, I do music every day, so that hasn't changed and it won't change. Only difference is now I am not relying on it for my pay cheque, so I can take some risks and be an eccentric artist for a while before I go back to being what a venue needs of me.

Pique: What would you like people to know about performing during a pandemic?

Be kind, be aware. The musician doesn't like to be approached in the best of times unless you're handing us a tip or praising our work. It's not the time to be confrontational, to demand requests or anything. I'd say just respect the artist. Listen, and let them be free to share their talents as they are. It's how it should be all the time, regardless of COVID.

Pique: Any upcoming gigs to highlight?

Everything is last minute at the moment as venues are figuring out the COVID restrictions. Truly as I await more bookings, I hope to play more backyards and private parties this summer too. Any opportunity to say yes, because times are different now. I am grateful for any gig that comes my way and looking forward to working with the wonderful managers and venues of Whistler and the Sea to Sky again. Add me on Facebook or IG, www.facebook.com/montyNS or @montybiggins and stay tuned for great things.

 

Marc Charron

2020-08_marc-charron-smile-picture-copyMarc Charron. 

Pique: What have the last three months been like for you musically? 

It took me two weeks after my last gig to get into a groove and want to play live again. I was scared, unmotivated, confused and questioning what to do. And as always, it comes back to music. Music has never left me. I picked up a few items necessary for livestreaming and jumped in. 

We did two shows weekly: the Anything Goes Show and The Acoustic Morning Coffee Show. One was an all-acoustic show and the other a one-man-band type show.

I had fans from across Canada, Belgium, France, the UK, India, the U.S. and it blew me away. We (my wife Jen and cat Starla) raised money for two charities during the shows—the Howe Sound Women’s Centre and Ronald McDonald House—and we are so proud of what we accomplished. We thrived throughout the last three months. Sometimes it was really, really hard though. I felt all the feels throughout the months and cried during at least one song in 90 per cent of the shows. It’s been a roller-coaster ride these past three months and I’ve had some great days and some not-so-great days.

I set up my home studio and recorded many, many new songs ( played a lot of them on the livestream shows ). An album or song releases are definitely in the works.

One thing that really helped was riding my motorcycle to the beach and breathing in the mountain/ocean air.

Pique: What was your first gig back and what was that experience like?

It was nice to play for people again, and I played great to be honest. I was nervous about people being too close. As for during the show, usually when a request is being made, I share a moment with that person and we both have a laugh and go on with our nights. Currently, the requests are made and that's it. I am less likely to extend the conversation for the time being. I miss talking to fans and strangers at the shows.

Pique: What are your musical plans for the summer?

I'll be continuing with livestreams, playing some gigs, recording, recording, recording, playing weddings and doing my best to stay healthy, happy and ready for when things return to a new normal. I'd like to play some social distance concerts, in beautiful settings for a small ticketed audience. Anyone interested?

Pique: What would you like people to know about performing during a pandemic? 

I'd like people to remember that all the staff, musicians and cleaners at venues/hotel bars/lounges are literally risking their lives to serve you and make your day/stay more comfortable. Cut them some slack and tip generously. Other things you can do are to watch the online livestreams, be active and engaged during the streams, share/like the streams that you enjoy. And, buy music from local musicians, like me!!

Pique: Any upcoming gigs to highlight?

I'll be doing livestream shows regularly on my facebook page (www.facebook.com/marccharronmusic ), so check those out for sure.

I'll be playing two livestream shows for a Squamish Arts Council initiative that helps young musicians build their skills and confidence to perform on a stage. It's called "Amped in the Park," and because of the pandemic, they are doing "Amped in your Neighborhood" - a live stream series. I'll be playing two nights (July 30, Aug. 27, 2020 ) on www.facebook.com/marccharronmusic as a way to keep the series going throughout the summer. It is usually held outside in a downtown Squamish park every Thursday. 

 

‘Grateful’ Greg Reamsbottom (The Hairfarmers) 

2019-52_hairfarmers-2The Hairfarmers
 
Pique: What are your musical plans for the summer? 
Before COVID hit, our 2020 summer was booked solid. Aside from the many local weddings and private events, we had some other big bookings including gigs in Scotland, Mexico and back at Burning Man. 
After having virtually every gig cancel between March 14 and October 2020, we’re now seeing some smaller show opportunities emerge. Things like private house parties and smaller weddings, as well as a few private livestream concerts for out-of-town clients. 
We’re just going to do our best to try to adapt to our clients’ needs and keep playing. I think the world needs some “fun” now more than ever!
Pique:  What have the last three months been like for you musically?
The last three months have been our slowest in 20 years, but we’ve tried to make the best of it with our livestream shows in support of the local food banks and community service organizations. These shows were successful beyond our wildest dreams! A big thanks goes out to the WB Foundation for matching donations and Whistler Live for providing the tech and hosting!
Pique: What was your first gig back and what was that experience like?
Our first gig back on stage (outside of the livestreams) was a small outdoor birthday patio party for a long-time local friend of ours. It was great…nice people, amazing food, no fear.
Pique: What would you like people to know about performing during a pandemic?
When performing during a pandemic, just make sure everyone is comfortable with the arrangements on site. If everyone (band and clients alike) feels safe we can all have a good time with no drama.
Pique: Any upcoming gigs to highlight?
We don’t have any upcoming PUBLIC shows right now, but we’re working on it! It’s hard for most venues to book bands right now when they can’t run at full capacity but we’re hopeful that will change in time.

Steph Lundy

Image-(1)-copySteph Lundy. 

Pique: What would you like people to know about performing during a pandemic? 

I would love people to know that their support is so appreciated, whether it’s feedback online, coming to gigs, hosting gigs or just enjoying a song and singing along and cheering us on; it’s all part of what makes the experience so rewarding, fulfilling and fun.

We play at Longhorn weekly (on Sundays) from 7 to 9 p.m. on their epic patio, as well as a few private shows we have coming up as well!  

Also I would love to add: if you’ve heard us play and think we might be suitable for a venue you run or an event you have coming up, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Pique:  What have the last three months been like for you musically?

The last three months were challenging to start but by the start of the second month I had started to appreciate the ability to slow down and focus on the things that help me grow and make me happy. I started doing quaran-tunes a couple days a week, as well as some remote collaborations with fellow musicians!

Pique: What was your first gig back and what was that experience like?

My first gig back was at the Longhorn a few weeks ago alongside Charlie Stenner, the venue did a great job to provide us a safe space away from the crowd but still in the middle of it all. It was a blast, super well recieved and I think one of the first live gigs since Whistler started to reopen!

Pique: What are your musical plans for the summer? 

Musical plans for the summer are basically just to be playing as much as possible. We have weekly gigs at Longhorn for the summer, and we have a few private gigs booked as well. (We are also on the hunt for any other venues that might be looking for musicians). Basically I’m just happy to be able to be doing music again. It’s where I am happiest, and I am so stoked to get to share that with people.

 

Stephen Vogler

Stephen-Vogler---live-stream-pic-copyStephen Vogler. 

Pique: What was your first gig back and what was the experience like?  

It was really good because I played outside at Rainbow Park this past Saturday and Sunday. The RMOW is moving their street entertainment around the valley more to try to disperse people. 

It was a sunny weekend, which was a miracle. I sat there—Andrea Mueller was painting beside me. I had my leg up on a chair because I tore my Achilles tendon playing tennis. It’s a long, slow recovery, but that was really nice. 

The outdoor setting was great. It was really fun to play for people; you could tell they were soaking it up. They wanted live music. 

As good as the livestreams can be, there’s nothing like live music. 

Pique:  What have the last three months been like for you musically?

It’s been alright for me. I’m used to working home alone all day anyways with my writing and music and stuff I’d normally do for The Point [Artist Run Centre]. That wasn’t a big change in my lifestyle. But it did free up more time for creative projects. I lost all my gigs. I had a whole bunch lined up in the spring both in Whistler and new ones in Vancouver that I was looking forward to.

With those gone and The Point closed down it gave me more time to work on my writing and play music at home. I did do a couple livestreams in April from RMU. I had gigs coming up there and they were really nice about keeping us musicians going. I did a solo one in April, which was doantions to the musician, which was great. Then I did one with the three-piece Some Assembly Required. We stepped up the technical aspect of it. I got some good video out of that. That was useful and it was fun to experiment with livestreaming. 

I’ve also with that creative time been writing some new songs. I had a couple new ones from this winter and I've written three more in these last few months, so I’m starting to record and put an EP together with that material. 

Pique: What are your musical plans for the summer? 

I hope to get some more of these gigs in the park. I haven’t played in a bar or anything like that yet, but some are starting to do that. With my leg screwed up it’s a bit hard to haul a PA around, but I’m looking for more gigs.

 Pique: What would you like people to know about performing during a pandemic?  

Respecting the distance. That’s the only way we can get back into this is if people are not going to be in a huge mosh pit. [Also] tip your musicains because we’re all starving. I trust the establishments. The bars I've been in have things set up well.




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