Tune into the soundtrack of Social Distancing with virtual concerts

One of my favorite things on this here planet is music — live music played with joy and spirit. There is nothing better to me than sharing my songs for an appreciative audience, or watching my musical heroes inspire me with their music. I have been blessed to see most of my heroes in concert, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

But in these Social Distancing/Safer at Home days, musicians and performers don’t have the audiences they once had — everything from local gigs to world tours has been canceled or postponed. It’s disheartening to musicians, as I well know from personal experience. But many of us, from big stars to local players, have found ways to share our talents, and in doing so, lift the spirits of all of us safe at home.

Elton John hosted the iHeart Concert for America featuring artists like Alicia Keys in their homes, and will be part of the Global Citizen One World concert event with Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Lizzo, Billie Eilish and more. In his spare time, Sir Elton’s AIDS Foundation launched a $1 million COVID-19 relief fund to prepare for and respond to the pandemic and its effects on HIV prevention and care.

James Taylor posts recent live performance videos on his website under the hashtag #SongsOfComfort. He also donated $1 million to Massachusetts General Hospital’s emergency preparedness fund to help it in its battle against COVID-19.

Country music stars all “got together” in the recent ACM Presents: Our Country event from the homes and studios of artists like Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani, and more. 

Mary-Chapin Carpenter, who was scheduled to appear in Key West last Saturday with Shawn Colvin, is posting new solo acoustic performances on her YouTube channel — they are recorded in her house as she stays at home (and off the road). Most of these big events and performances are available streaming or on YouTube.

Additionally, so many local Keys musicians are posting videos and hosting Facebook Live concerts. Brian Roberts hosts weekly Facebook Live concerts from his home. Tim Dee and Jim Hill play a selection of their Trop Rock sounds “on the waterfront.” Gary Hempsey does really nice acoustic sets on his Facebook page. Scott Youngberg has played some cool tunes from his backyard. Adrienne Z played a really nice set in a cool tropical location, and I’m sure there’s more to come. Cory Young and Ty Thurman, collectively and separately, have posted a lot of music and live events, and their songs are worth tuning in to hear. David Feder showcases his hillbilly flamenco guitar artistry regularly on his page. And there are so many more musicians and artists who are keeping the music alive while they keep our spirits just a little higher.

What these artists are doing is giving of themselves to provide live music to all of us who are taking this situation seriously and sheltering in place. For those of us who miss our favorite performers, it’s a great way to see and interact with them and our fellow music lovers also tuning in. While nothing beats actually being there at a live show, these Facebook Live Events are a cool way of connecting with listeners near and far. 

You can support these artists by tuning in to their live events, and leave a tip if you can. And if you have any stories about locals going above and beyond, send them my way at: [email protected].

I’d like to invite you to my Social Distancing Concert 4, a Facebook Live event this Friday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m., at my Facebook page. Instead of tips to me, I’ll post a link to Mangrove Mike’s Endeavors, Mike Forster’s charity that provides free lunches to people of the Keys. You don’t have to wait for my Friday concert, however — you can find out more and donate right now at www.mangrovemikesendeavors.com.

I hope to “see” you this Friday, where I’ll play a mix of my originals and some of my favorite songs by other artists. Until then, keep the faith, and keep the music alive.

To see John Bartus’ most recent virtual concert, click here.

-When not updating social media with accurate information from the city, county, state, and other authorities, John will play his Social Distancing Concert on Friday, 7:30 p.m. at: www.facebook.com/john.bartus

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