How artists are sharing their music with the world
By Danny Halmarson
Summer is the peak season for touring and music festivals, but COVID-19 forced the postponement or cancellation of live concerts for the foreseeable future. However, Winnipeg artists and organizers are finding alternative ways to showcase their work.
Folk trio Red Moon Road has toured extensively over the last eight summers. Singer Sheena Rattai said the band was scheduled to play dates throughout the summer including Summerfolk Music Festival in Ontario and a free show for Manitoba 150 celebrations at the Legislative Building.
“We’re lucky we didn’t have any major tours lined up, but it still changed our summer dramatically,” Rattai, 34, said.
Red Moon Road hasn’t played a show in over two months, but they put out a live EP called Nonsuch Sessions on May 8.
The three-song EP was recorded at Nonsuch Brewing Co. in May 2019. Rattai said the band decided how to execute the release during video chats in isolation.
“It was such a new experience to release something without being physically present with one another.”
Rattai said Red Moon Road is getting ready to play together again. They’re playing the inaugural ‘Bring Your Own Mic’ Livestream Concert Series at the West End Cultural Centre on June 27. Fans can purchase tickets for $2.
“Artists need to be able to support themselves,” Rattai said. “I think this is an interesting proposed solution.”
Johannes Lodewyks, an RRC plumbing student, has played in bands like SubCity Dwellers, The Noble Thiefs and North Graffiti for the past 21 years. The guitarist looked forward to playing JazzFest, Fringe Fest and Gimli’s Icelandic Festival this summer.
“The bread and butter is summer festival season,” Lodewyks said. “And now none of it is happening, so artists have to get creative.”
Lodewyks, 34, will host The Unplugged Punk Vol. 4 through Facebook on June 5. The show will feature acoustic sets from Gordie Farrell (Farrell Bros.) and Jenna Pristner (Mobina Galore) while raising money to support the WECC.
Lodewyks and Rattai have been playing and writing music on their own throughout the pandemic, but both said they’ve found it challenging.
“I didn’t pick up my guitar for three weeks,” said Lodewyks. “When something [like COVID-19] is taking up so much brain space, it’s hard to be creative.”
“It’s a hard thing to sit down and write when your life has fallen down around you,” said Rattai.
Andrea Davis is an artist manager for Mighty Cypress Talent Inc. working with Begonia, Royal Canoe, Sebastian Gaskin, and The Bros. Landreth. Much like Rattai and Lodewyks, Davis said Mighty Cypress’s clients are staying active and creative.
Royal Canoe released a documentary called GLACIAL on May 28 and Sebastian Gaskin has a new single coming out in June.
“We encourage [artists] to engage with their fans in a way that feels genuine and positive,” Davis said, another label rep for Birthday Cake Media.
Alexa Dirks of Begonia has periodically broadcast “talent shows” through Instagram Live over the last two months to connect with fans.
“It’s very different from seeing a Begonia show, but it’s still a lot of fun,” said Davis.
The future of music is uncertain, but industry members in Winnipeg remain optimistic.
“Look at what people are turning to while they have nothing else,” Rattai said. “Books, TV, movies, music. It’s art. I think that’s supremely powerful and telling.”
As an artist manager, Davis said she’s taking it day-by-day, but making sure they’re ready to adapt to change.
“I think people will be eager to get out and support live music,” Davis said. “But I could definitely see people feeling a bit apprehensive about going to venues.”
Lodewyks said he thinks there will be a renewed appreciation for live shows.
“When concerts start back up, look out – we’ve got a lot of living to do.”
Red Moon Road’s EP, Nonsuch Sessions, is now streaming on all platforms. Find out more at redmoonroad.com.
The Unplugged Punk Vol. 4 is live on Facebook on June 5. Check out facebook.com/theunpluggedpunk/ for more information.
Birthday Cake Media is releasing Field Guide’s new single on May 29. Find out more at https://ffm.to/fgyouwere