Finding a way: Entertainment world gets creative amid pandemic

  • Without any gigs on the upcoming schedule, Charlie Chronopoulos has started live streaming shows on Facebook to keep fans and friends engaged with live music. Courtesy photo—

  • Without any gigs on the upcoming schedule, Charlie Chronopoulos has started live streaming shows on Facebook to keep fans and friends engaged with live music. Courtesy photo—

  • Without any gigs on the upcoming schedule, Charlie Chronopoulos has started live streaming shows on Facebook to keep fans and friends engaged with live music. Courtesy photo—

  • Without any gigs on the upcoming schedule, Charlie Chronopoulos has started live streaming shows on Facebook to keep fans and friends engaged with live music. Courtesy photo—

  • Ken Sheldon did his first live streaming concert from his Peterborough living room after getting requests to do a show. Courtesy photo—

  • Young fans enjoy Ken Sheldon's first live streaming concert from his Peterborough living room. Courtesy photo—

  • The Park Theatre will stream, "The Wild Goose Lake", through its Virtual Movie Theatre service March 26 through April 2. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/25/2020 11:22:01 AM

There’s a quiet to the region that is more than just the fact people are staying home.

People flock to local concert halls, churches, bars and candy shops to see live music on any given night, but for now there’s none to be heard. Theatre lights have gone dark and stages sit empty, while movie screens sit unused instead of showing the next great film. And that seems like the way life will be for the foreseeable future.

The music hasn’t gone away, it’s just now confined to homes and private studio spaces. Musicians will keep playing – whether there’s a live audience or not.

Musicians are taking a huge hit financially, missing out on paychecks from shows that allow them to live and perform. Audiences are missing out too.

Nothing compares to a live show. So some local musicians and organizations have come together to share their talents in the only way possible these days.

It’s not uncommon for Charlie Chronopoulos to play 15 to 20 gigs in a month. As a musician since the age of seven, growing up with a dad in a cover band, Chronopoulos lives and breathes music. It’s why he’ll go just about anywhere to put on a show.

But Chronopoulos suddenly has a lot of free time on his hands, after all of his shows got canceled for who knows how long. With gatherings of any size all but banned and social distancing near impossible inside just about any music venue, Chronopoulos knows it was what had to be done. There’s still a void – and not just for him.

And Chronopoulos wanted to be part of the group that helps fill it.

“I’m mostly just doing it for people,” he said. “It’s wildly instinctive. People are going to need to listen to music.”

So he set up his old iPhone 6 in the Wilton mill space he rents, and started playing music on his Facebook page. Sunday was his fifth live show and he took a trip through the decades, playing requests from the 60s through 90s.

“It was the cheesy New England radio block,” Chronopoulos said. He’s been getting so many requests, he typically has enough ideas for his next livestream.

He intended to play all original music, but quickly realized he might run out of stuff. It doesn’t matter what he plays, as long as he’s got his guitar in hand and people want to listen. He’d probably be playing music anyway.

So far, Chronopoulos has received “tips” for his shows, including from his mom and brother, as well as an anonymous fan who left $100 and a handwritten letter on his door last week. It’s not about the money, although it helps. It’s about providing some sense of normalcy in a world that has a real lack of it. And as long as people keep tuning in, Chronopoulos will keep playing, including his next live show this Thursday, March 26 (tonight) at 8:30 p.m.

These days Ken Sheldon doesn’t do many kids performances. Despite releasing a new collection of songs “Talking to My Food,” he hadn’t done anything to promote it. He’s too busy with other projects.

But with friends and family staying at home amid the pandemic, he started getting requests for a live show, along the lines of “we’re stuck at home, can you do a concert?” So he figured why not do one from his Peterborough living room.

He played some of his new stuff and some of his old stuff last Thursday night, and even came up with a song about a hamster that escaped for three days.

“They wanted to hear a song about a hamster on the run,” Sheldon said.

Sheldon was pleasantly surprised how many people tuned into watch him strum the guitar for the first time live on the internet, but he understands why they did.

“People are going to need something to entertain their kids,” he said. “This is a time for those of us who have anything to share, to step up and do it.”

While he played and sang, his wife Chris Halvorson was watching the comments section, passing along questions and suggestions.

Sheldon doesn’t have any plans to do another live show, considering it took this long for his first, but it’s up on his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/kensheldonmusic/ to be viewed.

Eve Pierce has been working on her first album for about a year.

“It’s very singer-songwriter, folk-rock. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, it’ll make you adopt a pet snake, all that stuff,” Pierce said.

She’s been recording at Loud Sun Studio in Jaffrey, but with the studio now closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, her debut has been put on hold.

Pierce has thought about live streaming before, and given the current state of the world it seemed like something people might want – and need.

“I’m always working on music no matter what, but with many events being canceled I decided to take it as an opportunity to try a new form of performance,” Pierce said. “I’ve thought about streaming live, singing some songs before, so this felt like the right time, especially with everything going on. I figured some people may enjoy some music to lighten the mood.”

Pierce started streaming on Instagram live, which lets her stream for an hour. The concerts are on the platform for 24 hours.

She’s been doing a lot of cover songs that “I just really love to play and may not have an opportunity to do otherwise.”

“It gives me a chance to see how an audience may respond to it or how I like performing it. I try and take requests from the chat, too, and I’m throwing in more originals every time I stream,” Pierce said. “I’m also starting and ending every stream with “Tiny Dancer” and “Your Song” by Elton John, respectively. I just think he’s neat.”

For now, Pierce plans to live stream every Saturday and Sunday night.

“Originally I was thinking just Saturdays, but I got such a positive response and so I decided to stream on Sundays too! I’m not sure if I’ll keep streaming once social distancing and quarantining ends – but I’m definitely open to it,” she said.

One of the songs she did finish in the studio, “Snake Song” is now available digitally on iTunes and Spotify.

Since people can’t go out to the movies, the Park Theatre in Jaffrey is helping bring the movies to you.

Starting Thursday, March 26, the Park Theatre will stream a selection of first-run independent, foreign and documentary films with “Virtual Movie Theatre” service. The Park Theatre will be feature selected films online that were planned to be released during March and April. For most films, the “ticket” price is $12 per screening and you get up to three days to view the film.

The first two films include “Corpus Christi” and a new film noir thriller from China/France, “The Wild Goose Lake”. These two titles will play for one week and new titles will be presented on Friday, April 3, and every subsequent Friday.

Firelight Theatre Workshop begins its third season with the sixth installment of “We Were Friends”, an experience that can be enjoyed in people’s homes on April 29.

While the theatre can’t go on as we know it, the theatre must go on – albeit in a much different way. Tickets are $15, $12 for Firelight members.

For the foreseeable future, Grand Monadnock Youth Choir will provide online singing and learning videos that can be accessed for free by anyone from anywhere through www.grandmonadnockyouthchoirs.org. The videos are sectioned by age so that children and families can easily find appropriate levels of instruction.

Electric Earth Concerts kicks off its 9th season – a bit late – presenting the first of its videocast performances, “Lume – Love Songs from Around the World,” with Bosnian-Dutch accordionist–composer Merima Kljuco and singer Jelena Milušić. Streaming begins Saturday, March 28 at 4 p.m. at www.electricearthconcerts.org. The videocast will be available until Saturday, April 11.

On Sunday, March 29 at 4 p.m., Nelson’s Sam Osherson will do an online book reading and discussion of his new novel, “The Wolf Boy”, via ZOOM. You can join by visiting https://zoom.us/j/3736698775.

And chances are that more artists and entertainers will follow suit if life continues on this path.


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