In the midst of closures and quarantines, the beat goes on.
With bars and restaurants as well as performance venues in Kentucky ordered closed by Gov. Andy Beshear as a reaction to the ongoing coronavirus situation, musicians all over the state who depend on their talent for their daily bread are facing hard times, as are so many others.
But it’s not just those who can’t play that are suffering — so are night spot regulars and faithful fans.
“There are a lot of people like me who go and see (live) music every single weekend,” said Tiffany Finley, president of the Master Musicians Festival (MMF) Board. “Some people want to go out two or three times a week to see music.”
So MMF has teamed up this week with Lexington venue The Burl and area musical act Buck the Taxidermist to offer a special treat for those who are cooped up in their homes, yearning for a little more music in their lives.
The “Master Musicians Social Distance Fest” is currently taking place via Internet livestreaming. The “online concert” started Monday and goes through Sunday, March 29.
“There was a local band on the line-up for (MMF, scheduled for July 17-18) this year, Buck the Taxidermist,” said Finley. “Kyle Ayres (of the band) contacted us to help him find artists who might be interested in doing an online concert on their page.
“We started trying to help him out, and there was so much interest, we thought, ‘Why not partner up and make it a whole online music festival for the whole week?’” she added.
Finley said that contact was made with The Burl and “they said, ‘We want to help too,’ so the three of us came up with the event.”
Each band or artist performs live from wherever they are — “whether it be their couch or bed or a business, whatever,” said Finley — and each will has a time slot of an hour. Every day, the livestreaming concert will take place from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on the Master Musicians Festival Facebook page.
While the event itself is free to watch, there will be ways provided to help support artists during this difficult time. Artists on their individual feeds may tell fans how they can buy an item or band merchandise, or might also have a Venmo account set up so people can send tip money.
“It’s good for the bands and good for us,” said Finley. “A lot of these artists have shows, that’s how they make their money, and they’ve been canceled without any Plan B. ... I’m just seeing them left and right. All the shows I’m interested in, I see it every time a cancelation pops up on my feed.”
Finley mentioned one act scheduled to play this year’s festival that’s an MMF alum, Bendigo Fletcher of Louisville, had just gotten the opportunity to tour with a bigger band, Caamp, and those plans were squashed by the reaction to the COVID-19 virus limiting public gatherings. So many artists in the MMF family are in a bad way right now, but Finley is hopeful this event can help.
The event is presented by The Burl and Buck the Taxidermist.
The “MMF Social Distance Fest” also features artwork by Sarah Gillum (Venmo: @sarahgillumm), and regulars of The Burl (or anyone) can “buy a drink” from a bartender at The Burl via Venmo @burlfam to help keep the venue afloat during the ongoing shutdown.
Among the artists who were scheduled to perform are a host of names familiar to MMF fans and local music aficionados, including Bendigo Fletcher, Towne, Kites, Spooky Fox, Bee Taylor, Buck the Taxidermist, Tiny Tiny, Cody Lee Meece, Ben Sollee, Nicholas Jamerson, The Local Honeys, Michigander, Arlo McKinley, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Blackfoot Gypsies, Chelsea Nolan, Grayson Jenkins, Abby Hamilton, and many more.
As far as the actual Master Musicians Festival scheduled for this summer, while the concept of restrictions on public events and social distancing in reference to COVID-19 is still an ever-changing situation, Finley is “optimistic” that the show will go on, and the board will take a “good look at where we are as a whole” come June.
“We’re really positive about it right now,” she said. “We’re hoping when all of this is over and people are ready to get out of the house (they’ll come). We’re smaller than some of the big festivals, and that works in our favor.
“Even if something happened and we did have to cancel (in July), we would reschedule for later in the year,” she added. “Hopefully we won’t have to cancel it altogether.”