WITH THIS SOCIAL distancing thing pretty much stopping live music, Facebook and other social media platforms have stepped into the void. It's not the same as playing in front of actual people, but it's still a lot of fun and there are huge advantages.
For one, you can't mask or unmask talent. You can either play and sing, and people will like it, or not. I don't like watching myself on a video screen and I hate the sound of my own voice, but I've tried to watch the HartLyss live streams from the past two weeks. Geesh. That girl can sing! The guitar player needs to hide behind a pole or something.
So here's a guide to the local artists playing shows just for you. I am probably missing somebody, but it's not on purpose, so let me know if you are doing the live stream thing and I'll put you on this list.
JARED HOLBROOK: The front man for Jared & The Gentlemen, arguably Quincy's best live cover band, started this whole live stream thing a few weeks ago. At first when I saw it I thought he was going to do a pipe tobacco commercial, with the whole fireplace in the background thing, but Jared is simply an amazing singer and musician. Most of us realized we could do this because he did it. You never know what he is going to play and he doesn't stick to the traditional script. He. Is. Awesome.
GEORGE CATE: George, er, Rick, er, whatever name he's going by these days, is a powerhouse rock and roll guy. He's in a duo with his wife, Misty, called Secondhand Bliss. George is also getting a band called Maskera up and running. George lived the life with Predawn Hour and other bands - great songwriter and guitarist. He's also a paramedic for Adams County and one of the nicest and most genuine guys you will ever meet.
KAYLA OBERT: If anybody has improved faster and become a better singer and player in the last few years than Kayla, I dare you to prove it. She wears her love of Celine Dion and country music on her sleeve, but I forgive her for that. She is also coming out with an original collection of songs recorded at 505 Maine Recording Studio. Kayla is a gifted songwriter, singer and player - her arrangements are way cool. I got to play acoustic guitar on a few of her songs and I can 't wait for the songs to come out, hopefully soon.
JACKIE & LEVI: Jacqueline Kaufman came to me a few years ago and said she needed help with her guitar playing. She just needed experience and confidence. She also plays the uke and mandolin and has the voice of an angel. Jackie and Levi Tucker started playing together a year or so ago and they are the perfect match. Also, I miss Seven Days Fuller, her former band.
TIM SMITH: Also known as Big Country, Tim is as real as it gets. He has flourished despite hanging with a motley collection of guys called Pepper Spray. Tim is a country guy but he can play and sing just about anything, even original music with the 1/5 & Maine project. He also knows the first verse of every song ever written. A licensed pilot, Tim once flew three Pepper Spray members through a thunderstorm at 8,000 feet, and he also coined the phrase "This whole playing music and drinking beer is kinda fun!"
SETH WADE: A Hannibal guy, Seth focuses on original music and has some really interesting cover song versions. Really good guitar player with a unique voice.
ERIC MCKAY: As accomplished a guitar player as anybody around here, he fronts his own band and plays a lot of different and fun songs. It's true he looks like Grizzly Adams with that big old beard, but it makes him stand out.
LIZ BENTLEY: Nobody plays more or works harder than Liz. She is going to school in Tennessee now and frequently plays in the Nashville area. She's also writing more of her own songs and they are really good. A few years ago she booked three shows on a weekend and lost her voice, so Paul Wood and I helped her out and it was an absolute blast. Liz rocks!
AVENUE BEAT: Sam, Sami and Savana live in Nashville now. Yes, they once opened for HartLyss and had Pepper Spray as their band at their last ever Quincy show. Now they are getting massive national radio and digital streaming love for "Delight" and other amazing originals, and they are opening for Rascal Flatts this summer. It should be the other way around.
HARTLYSS: Let's face it - the best way to go about this whole playing music thing is to find a girl singer (Cori Powell) and stay the %$^#$#% out of her way (that's me). We've had a blast the past two Sunday nights and we are doing it again. My family especially has fallen for Cori and had no idea what a vocal powerhouse she is. She's been invited to a Hart Sibling Summit and to do a Michigan tour of the greater Not New Zeeland/Grand Rapids/Holland area. See you again Sunday night!
Make sure to check out venmo links for all the artists. We are doing what we love and supporting local musicians right now, even if it's from a distance to social distance.
NOTE: A couple of others to check out are Tim Hart, Mike Coultas and Kevin Kendall. I'm sure there are more.