HIGH COUNTRY — The High Country is home to bands and musical talent spanning every genre through a number of decades. In the face of COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, many are taking the changes in stride, turning to platforms and services such as Facebook Live and YouTube to share their music.
Kyle Sigmon, whose first full-length album is set to debut in May, says that he has decided to participate in live streams for a number of reasons.
“I know that during this time of social distancing people are looking for new ways to stay connected, which is really important. It will continue to be important to not feel lonely and isolated and to spread good news and love rather than fear,” said Sigmon. “This is why I wanted to do some live streaming of my music; I know people are wired for connection and social media is the safest way to ‘gather’ these days.”
As a singer/songwriter and pastor at FaithBridge United Methodist in Boone, Sigmon says the effects of the pandemic have had a bright side. Performing online broadens the amount of people who can tune in to his music.
“Our reach is bigger. By doing a livestream concert, I can have family in Texas present just as easily as my friends and family living down the street,” Sigmon said.
Sigmon noted that it’s more important than ever for creators “to find new ways to connect these days.”
“It is not only healthy for us as creators, but it is doing a service to humanity to point to music and art as a healthy way to deal with all of our emotions, and we never know how we might strike a chord with someone who needs that little bit of encouragement today,” he said.
Sigmon’s live streams and music can be found on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kylesigmon.
Songs from the Road Band has taken to performing live concerts via Facebook Live, calling them Front Porch Sessions. During these concerts, viewers can make song requests and give the band virtual tips via PayPal or Venmo.
“The venues closing and gig cancellations have affected all the musicians as that was their primary source of income. Hopefully this passes soon,” said band member Charles R. Humphrey III.
The band’s next concert was scheduled for Wednesday, March 25, at 8:30 p.m. on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/songsfromtheroadband. Previous Front Porch Sessions can be found on the page as well.
Chris Shreve, aka C. Shreve the Professor, said he happened to start recording “basement performances” and posting them to his YouTube channel before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“Not sure yet if I’m going to do live streaming or just record full takes to post to YouTube — still kind of figuring out what’s most effective,” he said.
Shreve, who was a professor of Public Health at Appalachian State University before he decided to pursue his music career full-time, says he’s lost count of how many of his shows have been canceled due to the pandemic.
“I think it’s over 20 now. I had a full 10 date New England tour get canceled along with performances at South by Southwest, Boone in Blossom and West Coast Function Festival. It’s really hard to know when a new ‘normal’ can resume so that we can get back out there.”
As an artist, Shreve has been “reflecting a lot on what a privilege it is to be able to travel around, performing for audiences from all different walks of life” and that he should “never take it for granted.”
“I’ve been taking advantage of the extra time at home to work on new songs and to go through some of the backlog of live show footage. I’ve felt a little bit of cabin fever for sure but I am really enjoying hanging out with my 9-year-old son so much. I’m a bit of homebody/recluse normally anyway, so other than the inability to get out and perform this hasn’t been that life-altering yet,” Shreve said.
Shreve is also spending some of his down time releasing videos as a part of his “Who Needs a Classroom” lecture series. He started this series after leaving App State to continue his love of teaching, just in a different format.
“Public Health was my field of expertise, so I feel extra compelled to continue those,” Shreve said, in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shreve’s YouTube channel, and links to his other social media, can be found at www.youtube.com/channel/UCo3TJP4ZRYK6mWITYgvN8ZA.
With the cancelation of MerleFest 2020, Liam Purcell and Cane Mill Road lost a show from its schedule.
“MerleFest handled the situation so well. Of course we were disappointed, especially because this was our third year in a row booked for MerleFest and our first playing the Cabin Stage and playing the Dance Tent on Saturday night,” said Liam Purcell. “We were so excited about those two shows. But we will keep our fingers crossed for 2021 and count the days until MerleFest happens again.”
Due to the college and university closures that have happened due to COVID-19, “the band isn’t all in the same town anymore.”
“For now, we are not planning any live stream events just because of the issue of having everyone in the same place since we are all hours apart now. Hopefully, that will change in the future,” Purcell said.
The band’s Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/canemillroad.
Musical artists are not the only ones who are adapting to this new wave of the Digital Age: restaurants, art galleries, medical facilities, child care facilities, public schools, colleges and universities are also altering their regular programming to be online-centric.
The Blowing Rock Art and History Museum has developed a series titled “BRAHM at Home,” in which museum staff posts new videos twice per day during its closure.
This series features regular BRAHM programming, such as art lessons, along with new approaches to programs, such as the Curator’s Corner. Each week, there will also be artwork showcases and tours of the various galleries in the museum.
More information about BRAHM at Home can be found at www.blowingrockmuseum.org/athome/brahm-at-home.html.
The Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center in Boone is closed until at least March 31, but certain classes, such as dance and yoga classes, are being conducted weekly in multiple sessions online. See a lineup of upcoming classes at www.wellness.apprhs.org/calendar/class-schedule and participate by tuning in to www.facebook.com/wmcwellness at the class times.