Neil Young

Neil Young performs with Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real. Young and other musicians are offering fans live streams of shows, good medicine for those who love live music, but cannot gather at venues due to the coronavirus pandemic. (File photo by Jay Blakesburg)

When my last column came out two weeks ago, life was business as usual. A heavy calendar of spring shows filled Telluride’s evenings and the hard reality was picking which ones to attend. Then it happened, the week of March 9, a few days the world will never forget. Moe. had just torn up the Sheridan Opera House, while Con Brio at Club Red and the Futurebirds at O’Bannon’s were yielding a tough decision in my head of which show to go to last Thursday night. By then a rumbling had started. Was it fear, fake news, or hype? No, this rumbling was the real deal. Coronavirus was here to deal with and it was moving fast. 

The news started coming — SXSW cancelled, Coachella postponed, Galactic canceled, Colorado’s governor was halting all mass gatherings, the dominos were falling down. A feeling of devastation, shock and helplessness swept over me. The music industry was imploding, or at least it felt like it was. Selfishly, I was bummed to know I would not see live music anytime soon, but my heart broke for the artists, industry folks and crews whose livelihood and financial health depended on touring. These road warriors live the life of constant travel, gathering groups of people and performing. It sadly had to abruptly stop.

The sky was indeed falling and artists, music industry personnel took to social media to share despair and fear of the incredibly difficult road ahead. Now a week later, the reality of no touring, no festivals until at least May, and a self-quarantine recommendation, has really set in. Artists and music industry workers, along with the general population are figuring out the next steps. The immediate outlook is grim, filled with no events and lots of time at home, but thanks to social media platforms and the internet you can see and support some of your favorite artists during this time of hunkering down via live streaming from their living rooms to yours. 

Live stream performances and festivals are about to become the new normal for the time being, and announcements of shows are happening hourly. Some of these live streams are ticketed, some are free, some are free with a suggested donation. These shows are a great way to see live music while you shelter in place while supporting musicians. Throw in some takeout food from a local restaurant and a growler or cans from a local brewery and you have yourself a night in, one that could be just as fun as night out. 

Just this week, near the front of what is sure to be a wave of live broadcast shows, showcased appearances included those from Jim James and Neil Young for a digital Bernie Sanders rally, Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys put on a show for over 200,000 fans for St. Patrick’s Day, as well as other uplifting Facebook Live streams from Lukas Nelson and Jackie Greene. Now that artists and festival production companies know their fate for the next few weeks, announcements are plentiful. If you enjoy a free streaming show, I highly suggest leaving a tip or buying some artist merchandise to help these artists and their teams stay afloat. 

Luck Reunion, a recently canceled, exclusive annual gathering at Willie Nelson’s Luck, Texas ranch has announced “’Til Further Notice,” a stream that will feature artists slated to play the original event. Today, (Thursday) you can tune into the Luck Reunion Facebook or website from 5-10 p.m. (MT) to catch live performances from Willie Nelson, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, Jewel, Nathaniel Rateliff, Paul Cauthen, Margo Price and Jeremy Ivey, Randy Houser, David Ramirez, Tre Burt, Ian Ferguson, Devon Gilfillian, Early James, Sunny War, Ida Mae and more. Fans can choose to donate to a digital tip jar during the stream.

Local favorite and legendary artist, Neil Young, plans to stream some performances from his ranch on his website, Neil Young Archives, with help from his wife, Darryl Hannah. Judging on the quality of his Bernie Sanders broadcast where he performed “Heart of Gold,” these are going to be intimate and incredible. Additionally, artists including Kevin Morby/Waxahatchee, Fruit Bats, Chris Thile, Benjamin Gibbard and many more have confirmed online shows.

There is no doubt times are rough for all. I believe live music helps. Brighten up your quarantine with a live music stream and don’t forget to support the artists.