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Local musicians virtually connect with audiences during COVID-19 self isolation

Park City-based singer-songwriter Shannon Runyon helped the Rockwell Room gather musicians for Nashville Unplugged Supports Local, nightly live streams that will run through March 29.
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What: Nashville Unplugged Supports Local

When: 7-8 p.m. nightly

Where: Rockwell Listening Room social media platforms

Schedule: Keith Carney, March 25; Nick M, March 26; Tanya Taylor, March 27, Jessa Young, March 28; Michelle Gomez, March 29

Web: oprockwell.com

What: MUSE PC Livestream

When: 2 p.m., Wednesday, March 25

Where: facebook.com/groups/musepc

Schedule: TBA, 2 p.m.; Courtney Spaulding, 2:50 p.m.; Tallen Cox, 3:40 p.m.; Dieter Wachtel, 4:20 p.m.

A few days after Italy shuttered the country due to COVID-19, residents lifted their spirits by singing and playing instruments on their balconies.

These performances went viral and inspired some Park City and Summit County artists, musicians and bands to do something similar.

Instead of playing from balconies, though, local musicians have been live streaming from the Rockwell Room since last weekend, and Park City Summit County Arts Council has tapped MUSE PC’s open mic stage to do their own live streaming this Wednesday.

Rockwell’s stream is called Nashville Unplugged Supports Local, which runs nightly from 7-8 p.m. on Rockwell Room’s Instagram Live and Facebook Live platforms, and on the individual musicians’ social media pages, was dreamt up by Gold Standard vocalist Chloe Johnson.

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Right now they aren’t allowed to perform in their normal habitat, so to speak, so with this, they get to perform in a similar kind of vibe…” Jody Whitesides, MUSE PC facilitator

Since performing music to live audiences in bars, clubs and restaurants in Park City has been put on hold, Gold Standard decided to do a live stream a couple of weeks ago, Johnson said.

“We did it in my DJ’s basement, and it was so ghetto,” she said with a laugh. “I asked why we weren’t live streaming from an actual venue where we could be on a stage and make it look a little professional.”

So the next day, Johnson, who is the marketing manager of the Rockwell Room, home of the Nashville Unplugged performances, spoke with the venue’s owner Scott “Scooter” Thompson about doing live streams.

“Scott and I talked and discussed how we can still serve the community, and decided it’s not about money,” Johnson said. “It’s about bolstering people’s spirits during this crazy, unprecedented time that we’re all going through.”

Thompson climbed onboard and came up with Nashville Unplugged Supports Local live streams. After the meeting Thompson called local singer-songwriter Shannon Runyon, who is known for her network of local musicians, to help get the word out, Johnson said.

“Five hours later Shannon sent me a list of 10 different musicians who had already signed up to play every single day,” she said. “The musicians are super excited to have a place to play, and they are stoked to have this chance to combine their fanbases.”

Runyon is grateful for the opportunity to perform for audiences, albeit virtual, again.

“This is one of the reasons we appreciate venues like the Rockwell Room stepping up to provide a beautiful backdrop and professional sound to be able to still do what we do best, play music,” she said. “We will continue to create during this time and come back as better musicians and even more grateful for what this community provides and for what we can give in return.”

Brook MacKintosh opened the series on March 20.

“The event was awesome,” Johnson said. “The Rockwell Room seats about 150 during regular live performances, and during MacKintosh’s first stream, more than 80 peopled logged in to watch.”

Not only did these people see MacKintosh play, they also made requests, commented and interacted through the platform, according to Johnson.

“Word has spread, and right now, we are reaching about well over 1,000 people in their homes,” she said. “And it’s because we have an awesome group of musicians.”

The current performance schedule runs through March 29, but that may change, Johnson said.

“We will reevaluate to see where the world is at by then, and if we’re still socially isolated, we will book another 10 days,” she said. “It’s a fun way to provide some social interaction, while staying safe and following the guidelines we’ve been asked to follow.”

The Musicians Songwriters Exchange Park City livestream will start at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25, on MUSE PC’s Facebook page, said group facilitator and singer-songwriter Jody Whitesides.

Like the Rockwell Room’s livestreams, the MUSE PC performances is a way for musicians to continue to play music, according to Whitesides.

“Right now they aren’t allowed to perform in their normal habitat, so to speak, so with this, they get to perform in a similar kind of vibe — on stage — but to an empty hall, although some people will be watching them,” he said. “Maybe those who watch will find some music and artists they like.”

Whitesides will frame the musicians in a laptop screen and set up some lights for each performer.

“I think it’s a good way for people to escape getting a little stir crazy, with the whole thing self isolation, or self-house arrest, which is what I would call it,” he said.

The idea for the MUSE PC livestream came from the Park City Summit County Arts Council, said executive director Jocelyn Scudder.

“The arts council has been working with ideas to make sure our cultural sector, specifically our arts and culture organizations, nonprofits and individuals, are feeling connected and supported at this time,” Scudder said. “We‘ve been talking a lot lately about how art connects us, and arts and culture is a positive light that connects our community. So this is something that is needed, now more than ever.”

The arts council reached out to multiple artists to find ways to show their talents on social media pages, and the council would amplify their messages through its social media pages, she said.

“We have done calls for virtual art classes, and other specific art groups, MUSE PC being one of them, to figure out creative solutions to use our amazing pool of local talent,” she said. “There has been a ripple effect to that. The more we promote organizations like MUSE PC, the more people learn about those types of community resources when many of us feel an air of uncertainty.”


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