As we've stated online and in this very issue, arts workers and musicians are feeling the sting of COVID-19 in a very real way. But as the self-isolations continue and many start to feel cabin fever, some musicians are taking to the internet to host virtual concerts through platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Former Santa Fean Trevor Bahnson is one such songsmith, and has been performing virtual concerts for the past few days while in isolation in the California Bay Area. SFR spoke with Bahnson to get the sweet and lowdown about taking his show online.
When did you first have the idea to do virtual performances?
Probably a few weeks ago when everything was starting to look…part of it is, because I'm in a physically compromised space, because I'm susceptible, I've been thinking about it more than most people. I have cystic fibrosis, a genetic lung disease. I've had it my whole life, but the last four or five years have been progressively more difficult. I've been aware of how viruses spread because I've been in this state for so long. When this started happening, I knew what I had to do, but I think the scope of it freaked me out because I figured it was a much bigger problem than we were making it out to be. I'm much more prone to infection, so I'm personally not going to be able to go out, and after I had four tours cancel and five festivals—every performance was cancelled—I was like, OK, there's gotta be a way to do this. [Sunday] night was the first time I've done anything, and I'm going to start doing it every night [on Facebook Live at facebook.com/trevor.bahnson]. It's effective because people are on there at the moment. It's a hugely potent time, and I was thinking this morning that the one thing I wouldn't want to happen is to go through this and not learn anything. We've all been given this fucking forced vacation, we can try to focus on bigger things. I would hate for this thing to happen and people not [take it seriously] because they're afraid of getting bored.
How might people find you, and do you accept tips when you play?
[Sunday] night was the first one, and already I'm seeing the potential. The whole thing streams from me trying to get clear about what I actually have to offer people, and in this situation…it's music. I'm going to make it public, I'm going to put Venmo [trevor-bahnson] and PayPal [firstname.lastname@example.org] links for people to donate if they can. It's an important time for artists and musicians who've had work canceled or who've struggled…it's a way to have exchange. But there are no requirements. If people don't have means, it's obviously totally cool. I want people to have a place to listen to music.
Any advice for musicians thinking of doing similar "events?"
I think just do it. In the process of doing it [Sunday] night, I worked out the kinks. You'll work out the kinks. I didn't know how it worked, but the process was…just do it, see how it feels, then make a judgement. I think it's also incredibly beneficial for people who aren't musicians and who aren't able to go to shows. The comments I got were super powerful. These are crazy times, and music is a really important thing for people in crazy times.