Ethan McBrien to play livestream for Nova Arts

  • Ethan McBrien of Party of the Sun. Photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/4/2021 10:22:30 AM

When the music world essentially shut down almost 11 months ago, so many musicians searched for a way to keep their craft going.

The void created by canceled gigs and jam sessions with fellow creators – not to mention paychecks – was constantly there with no clue of when it would come back.

There’s something special about being on stage, watching crowds bob their heads, sway their hips and mouth the words to their favorite tune.

“Any time you perform, whether its for five people or 400 people, there’s an energy exchange,” said Ethan McBrien, founder of Party of the Sun. “Music is a collective experience. It’s about sharing that moment with people.”

Coping has been different for everyone. For McBrien, that has meant a deep dive into the creative process – from writing new songs to time in the recording studio with Rory Hurley, the other half of Party of the Sun, readying for a new album set for a release later in 2021.

It has brought him back to the reason he started playing music and why he began creating his own.

In the beginning of the pandemic shutdown, McBrien did a few livestreams using Facebook and Instagram, but it wasn’t quite the same. He enjoyed sharing the music with others who he knew so desperately needed it in their lives. In the end though, he wanted to put that energy into writing and recording, pushing his catalog even further for when he could play in front of others.

“That’s really what the COVID time has been for me,” he said. “It’s been about working on those songs, working on those recordings.”

Then Eric Gagne, program director at Nova Arts, asked about doing a livestream from Keene’s newest music venue stage. It didn’t take long for McBrien to say yes.

So on Friday night, McBrien will play a solo show that will showcase some of that new material he’s spent months working on and a number of tracks from Party of the Sun’s last three releases, “Goldenwood” (2020), “Trekker” (2019) and “Lay Low” (2017).

Since it will just be a solo show, McBrien said he’ll pick songs that work better for acoustic guitar and vocals.

“It’s just about picking and choosing what works in a solo act,” he said.

Playing new material outside practice or recording sessions is just another step in the creation process.

“Maybe I don’t know it perfectly, but I’m excited about the song,” he said, comparing it to an almost live composition element.

For McBrien, it will be nice to skip the setup and take down of all the equipment, getting the sound just right. He can just focus on the music.

“It has been a nice little thing on the horizon to get ready for,” he said of Friday’s show, which begins at 8:30 p.m.

He’s excited to try out some new material. While he won’t get that instant feedback typically found within the mood of an audience, it will be nice to just play for others, even if there won’t be anyone showing their appreciation in the moment.

The last venue show he played was at The Stone Church in Newmarket last February. Then everything lined up from there went away.

McBrien said the writing process since March has changed. So many of his daily interactions and in-person conversations play a role in his work.

“They really do impact your writing,” he said. “So writing is different. It’s really cool in some ways, but there is an element missing.”

Yet it has also afforded him to focus a little more without the interruptions of life pre-pandemic.

“It’s been an opportunity in a lot of ways,” McBrien said. “Those creative currents are a little easier to tap back into.”

McBrien referred to music as medicine, and something everyone needs right now. So Friday night he will play the music Party of the Sun fans want to hear and others that will tease toward more to come.

The livestream is by donation and more information can be found at https://www.novaarts.org/events/partyofthesunlivestream.


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