In the coming months, an unprecedented number of Americans will be spending more time at home ... or at least we hope the severity of our situation has finally broken through the anti-science, over-politicized noise.
Tough times are ahead and some of us are definitely going to need the power of music to keep our spirits up.
Kicking off this afternoon, Richmond Grid is hosting a Virtual Happy Hour House Show series featuring well-known local musicians performing live in or around their homes, for your online viewing pleasure.
If you can, hook up some speakers to your computer, kick back and tune in to Grid's Instagram or Facebook live today at 5 p.m. for the inaugural show by singer and songwriter Saw Black.
Prabir Mehta, who will perform for the series on Wednesday, March 17, notes that most musicians have had gigs canceled - in many cases, through the summer. He adds that venues are making the right decision to shut down, save lives and prevent a larger medical catastrophe.
“I'm also looking forward to eventually hearing songs about this time period,” he says. “Music is awesome, it can connect crowds, cheer up people, and even capture historic moments so well. “
For those unfamiliar, Grid is a quarterly magazine with "co-created stories" that its website says are designed to focus on the positive, "to celebrate how we live, work and play in the region." As part of this "different form of journalism," Grid also offers a full-service branding agency.
We sent a Q&A by email to Grid's Paul Spicer to learn more about the series:
Style Weekly: How did the idea come about?
Paul Spicer: The idea for coming together to celebrate music and community was initially inspired by the people of Italy who have joined together in song from their windows, balconies, and rooftops during these challenging times. We wanted to find a similar way to connect with neighbors here at home, despite our physical distance, to show our collective spirit. Ultimately, we wanted to show that you can’t cancel community. You can’t cancel connection. And you certainly can’t cancel the music that brings us closer to one another, even while our current situation requires that we remain apart.
With that in mind, I immediately reached out to Claire Prendergast, a Richmond Grid team member who has been involved in the local music scene for years. Claire jumped on the idea and quickly went to work reaching out to Richmond’s diverse and talented community of musicians.
What has the music scene's reaction been to the idea?
As always, Richmond’s music community proved that it’s more than willing to collaborate and give back. Every artist we’ve talked to about the idea for a virtual happy hour and house show was excited to share their time and music with others. Our local musicians know better than anyone that music in itself is healing. It’s something that touches all of us. It’s collective. It’s communal. And it brings us all together and binds us…which is something we need now more than ever.
Again, I can’t thank Claire Prendergast enough for helping make this happen. And of course, a huge thank you to Richmond’s talented musicians for using their talent to make each day a little brighter for everyone.
How are you promoting it?
We refer to Grid as a solution-oriented platform, which means that we’re constantly trying out new ways to celebrate Richmond and push the community forward. To make that happen, we experiment a lot, rely on grassroots promotions, and connect with Richmonders as authentically and organically as possible. For the virtual happy hour house show, we’re simply inviting Richmonders to join us on Facebook and Instagram for live performances. As the project unfolds, we may add new ways to creatively connect.
Any other bands/announcements I can add?
Virtual Happy Hour start times will vary depending on the musician, typically anywhere from 3:30 pm to 6 pm. The artist will take over Richmond Grid’s Facebook and Instagram to perform live in a spot that inspires them. They define the show and have complete creative control. An artist may decide to play from their living room, by a fire in their backyard, in their home studio, on their front porch, or other spots in and around their home that inspires them. Here’s what we’re looking at so far…
Saw Black will perform today, Tuesday, March 17, at 5 pm.
Prabir will perform tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18, at 3:30 pm.
Marcus Tenney of Butcher Brown will perform on Thursday, March 19, from 4 pm to 5 pm.
Kenneka Cook will perform on Friday, March 20. We’re still nailing down a specific time.
Eddie Prendergast of Mikrowaves will perform at 4 pm on Saturday, March 21.
Paulo Franco will perform on Sunday at 5 pm.
Høly River, formally Lobo Marino, will play on Monday. Time to be announced.
We’re also finalizing a time for Regan Sprenkle next week.
In addition, we have some other big announcements to make next week, so stay tuned for some RVA favorites who will be joining us.
What do you think is the ultimate importance or value of something like this?
Our hope is that the virtual happy hour will encourage everyone to take a moment in the day to create beauty and joy during difficult times. Just because we’re practicing social distancing, doesn’t mean we can’t encourage connection. We hope our friends and neighbors will take a break from the news for a moment, pour themselves a local beverage if they’re so inclined, log-in to listen, share with others, sing along if they’d like, leave a positive comment for RVA, applaud someone who needs it, and connect with others in creative ways even while our current situation demands that we remain apart.