Local musicians who usually play for a live audience are taking their shows on the road, kind of, via Facebook Live due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
Lifelong Vail local Johnny Schleper traded the Red Lion stage for his guest bedroom and has been going live every Friday since the ski resorts closed in March.
“It has been an interesting and humbling experience,” Schleper said about performing without a live crowd. “I definitely can’t do it without the awesome people streaming through Facebook Live every week.”
Fellow Red Lion singer Dave Tucker has been posting his live shows on Facebook Live as well, and both Tucker and Schleper have been a part of KZYR The Zephyr’s Virtual Friday Afternoon Club.
“It’s great exposure to be on KZYR’s Facebook page and the radio, or if people share it off of their Facebook page and create a watch party. I’m getting new fans from all over the world that are seeing me play for the first time,” Tucker said.
German sensation Helmut Fricker has entertained guests at Sarah’s Lounge at the Christiania in Vail on Friday afternoons for 40 years and isn’t letting the COVID-19 closures stop him.
“I get out my accordion and alpenhorn and play in front of my fireplace at 4:30 p.m. at my home in Eagle,” Fricker said.
Look closely, you may even spot his dog, Spencer, in the background wearing a Bavarian costume.
Kevin Danzig is using this time to share some of his originals as well. His “A Song A Day ‘Til May” series has proven popular with fans and he may continue it next month with a different name: “Another Tune ‘Til June.”
Gathering together a string of soon-to-be-announced local artists, The Ghost Light Sessions hosted by the Vilar Performing Arts Center kicks off with a show by the Runaway Grooms at 7 p.m. on May 7. Additional artists will be announced soon.
“We have been working hard to really curate this set to be a very engaging listening experience that takes the viewers at home through a musical roller coaster,” said frontman Adam Tobin. “We want listeners to feel like they’re at an actual live show again.”
For some performers, that’s the part of the show they miss most.
“The live show energy is unique every night. That connection is like a new conversation that’s always different and interesting. Can’t wait to have those conversations again,” said local musician Brendan McKinney.
Even Scott Munns is getting comments from his Vail fans while playing on Facebook Live from Florida. Munns splits his time playing gigs at the Bridge Street Bar in Vail and the Elbo Room in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“It’s fun to see the comments from the Vail locals or people who have seen me play there over the years. There will be some inside joke about a song I usually play, or they’ll ask me about O.J. Simpson and want me to play the ‘Bronco song’ — it’s just one big party,” Munns said.
Each performer says it helps them pass the time during social distancing and breaks up the day. Schleper has been recording and writing new songs, doing a little snowmobiling and getting the dirt bike ready.
“I’m also getting a lot of amazing family time, which is great because we have a daughter who is 16 months old,” Schleper said.
Munns admits that he’s been less productive.
“I would like to say that I have been writing songs and being more creative but I’ve been watching TV and eating. Although I did learn the song, ‘I Saw a Tiger’ from the ‘Tiger King’ series on Netflix,” Munns joked.
Although the online audience has been kind and generous, oftentimes tipping performers via virtual means, the performers do miss the live crowds.
“Nothing beats being in the same room with people who love live music and it’s that energy that gets shared multiple nights a week that I miss most,” Tucker said.
Munns also misses the crowds and not having to social distance.
“Honestly, I miss hugging people, not in a weird or creepy kind of way, but I’m a hugger, I hug perfect strangers. I’m gonna hug people when we get the all-clear signal,” he said.
Catch these performers on Facebook Live:
- Kevin Danzig – Mondays at 5 p.m. – www.facebook.com/kevin.danzig
- Johnny Schleper – Fridays at 5 p.m. – www.facebook.com/Johnnyschlep
- Helmut Fricker – Fridays at 4:30 p.m. – www.facebook.com/helmutfricker
- Dave Tucker – Fridays at 6:30 p.m. – www.facebook.com/daveytucker
- The Ghost Light Series – Starting May 7 at 7 p.m. with The Runaway Grooms – www.facebook.com/vilarperformingartscenter/
- Scott Munns – Check Facebook page for upcoming shows- www.facebook.com/scottmunns88
- Virtual FAC on The Zephyr – hosting Brendan McKinney on Friday, April 24 at 5 p.m. for Second Live Howl series – stream via www.facebook.com/kzyr977 – Follow McKinney at www.facebook.com/brendan.m.kinney
- Check Facebook page for upcoming artists and shows – www.facebook.com/kzyr977
If you’re a local artist doing a virtual performance and would like to be added to this list, email Entertainment Editor Casey Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entertainment editor Casey Russell contributed reporting to this story.