By Pete Zamplas
Asheville – Two stars of premier local rock band The Broadcast are showing other musicians how to raise money and stay in the limelight, even when the world is at a Coronavirus-triggered standstill.
The state-mandated quarantine forced nightclubs and many other establishments to close for several weeks, and cancel music gigs. With re-openings phased in over the coming months, musicians are scrambling to make ends meet.
They are going online more than ever such as with live streaming of their performances from home. This creative outlet enables performers to keep a public presence and seek donations to stay afloat in what essentially is cyber busking reaching online followers.
Bluesy “soul rock” The Broadcast, based in Asheville, has its singer Caitlin Krisko and lead guitarist Aaron Austin playing acoustic shows together every Saturday night 8-9 p.m. The hour-long sets are streamed live from the band’s Facebook page.
Donations “help us keep our heads above water,” what with gigs canceled to comply with the state’s social distance mandates, Krisko told viewers.
The duo is among acts essentially busking online, by monetizing their online outreach. They have links to donate or to buy their merchandise (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org, venmo@caitlin-krisko), to help them make it through these trying financial and emotional times. Venmo handles mobile payments.
Streaming is live, yet can be viewed later and replayed using a restart button. Viewers can go to any point/song in the show, by sliding back the progression bar at the bottom.
A “watch party” enables a person to see and hear a live show on Facebook, and see which Facebook “friends” are watching. An auto alert can notify one’s “friends” of the live streaming. A woman in Krisko’s home state of Michigan saw 40 of the woman’s Facebook friends also seeing the duo and tasting Broadcast’s raw energy for the first time.
Viewers can comment, make requests or donations. Krisko acknowledged many viewers, as part of banter between songs as she sat in a comfy sofa chair next to Austin. She leaned forward to a hidden machine, to play canned applause or laughter.
Krisko and Austin played live on Facebook on the last six Thursdays including last week, before switching to Saturday nights. They thus had two hour-long shows in three nights, during this scheduling transition.
These acoustic duo sets are briefer versions of shows they did weekly, in-person in Rustic Grape Wine Bar in Asheville last year, as a periodic side act. “I love how we relate to our fans on a more personal, intimate level,” Krisko said.
‘Fighting the Feeling’
They perform mostly covers with some originals as a duo, whereas The Broadcast concerts have mostly the band’s energetic originals. Their originals include “Battle Cry,” “Steamroller,” “Lovin’ You,” “Every Step,” “Electric Light” and “Eyes of a Woman.”
The Broadcast has won awards at Music Video Asheville and honor as Asheville’s official ambassador band, and been on NPR’s “World Cafe.” The band’s new CD produced by two Tedeschi Trucks Band members is entitled Lost My Sight, and sparkles with as much vocal and instrumental intensity as ever. Austin notes its infusion of jazz fusion.
Songs include “Blue Heron,” “Out of My Mind,” “Same Old Thing,” and “Over the Mountain.” Lyrical themes include about romance, happiness, frustration, and moving forward over time.
Austin and Krisko mix in some of these songs into their weekly online mini-concerts. They did up-tempo “Fighting the Feeling.” They have a music video of it. This is the first single from the upcoming CD to get released on all digital platforms March 20. More singles are slated to be released, ahead of the album that was to be unveiled in May.
Instead, the quarantine prompted The Broadcast to hold off on releasing its new CD, and to cancel gigs in the spring. “We are absolutely gutted by having to delay what (new CD) we’ve worked so hard to bring to our fans,” without getting to support it with shows, Krisko said.
There is a consolation of both performers and audiences often being stuck at home. Live streaming and digital releases of songs can “keep you as entertained as possible during these very strange times,” Krisko stated to fans. In their fourth weekly jam, she said she and Austin were eager to “bring some light into your life. ‘Cause that’s what artists do” — no matter the crisis. She is optimistic people will “come together, to help get through this (pandemic) as swiftly as possible.”
Most of these virtual songs are covers, linked by a theme. The past two shows featured rock hits of the Nineties. Krisko sang Blind Melon’s somber ’93 smash “No Rain” Saturday. Last Thursday she did a Hootie and the Blowfish song and ended with a hit by the Dave Matthews Band, which was oft-requested in viewer comments.
Both nights, Krisko sang a feel-good hit off of the first record she bought (at age 10) — Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do (is Have Some Fun).” The bouncy tune, off Crow’s ‘93 debut LP, won 1995 Grammys as record of the year and best female vocalist. Now, all Krisko wants to do is have fun — and lift quarantine-plagued people’s spirits.