By Nathan Ham
As everyone continues to adapt to the latest social distancing measures during these uncertain times, local musicians and restaurants are working together to try and alleviate some of the financial strain on many restaurant employees.
Last week, The Local had musician almostmadi perform a virtual concert that streamed live on Facebook.
“Music has always been a stronghold at The Local. We wanted to be able to offer an experience where you at home can feel like you are watching someone live,” said Laura McGarr, who books all of the musical acts for the restaurant.
The stage at The Local was set up, with the help of house DJ Kermit Margeson, to have proper concert lighting to make everyone that was watching have a better feel that they were there on the front row listening to almostmadi.
Madison Walter, more famously known as almostmadi, said that she has been doing virtual concerts for about the last four weeks, but this one was the first time she didn’t have to play her music from inside her own bedroom.
“When I started performing music, I was very shy. My mom has been telling me for 15 years that I had to get out of my bedroom and do something for me to gain a following, but the funny thing is I’ve been doing this for the past four weeks and I’ve gained more followers than when I was doing actual shows,” laughed almostmadi.
The concert was set up to where viewers could tip almostmadi through the Venmo app and also donate to a GoFundMe account set up for employees that have been displaced due to the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.
“We’re a tight crew and I feel like we’ve gotten even tighter through all of this. Our community gets bigger in times of strife instead of more separated and I’m really grateful to be here in Boone because of things like that,” said McGarr.
McGarr added that these virtual concerts will continue each Wednesday for the time being and that some of the staff at The Local is working on putting together other virtual events, such as teaching people how to make mixed drinks.
The idea of virtual concerts has spread beyond just one restaurant in town. The Virtual Dinner Concert Series started by Michael Greene has put on five concerts with a sixth one scheduled for this Wednesday, April 15, to benefit Mike’s Inland Seafood. In the previous five virtual concerts, GoFundMe donations went to The Local, Booneshine, Lost Province, Mike’s Inland Seafood and Boone Saloon.
Local musician David Brewer played the most recent concert at Boone Saloon. He said that his show on April 9 raised about $5,600 for the employees.
“100 percent of the proceeds go through a GoFundMe page that gets distributed to the staff of these restaurants. People are encouraged to tip the performers separately,” said Brewer.
The idea of the Virtual Dinner Concert Series was simple. People are encouraged to go get to-go food orders from the restaurant that is hosting the virtual concert and then go back home and enjoy a great musical performance from the comforts of their own dining rooms or living spaces.
“Ultimately I do think you are starting to see a lot more bands doing things like this,” Brewer said. “I think the streaming phenomenon is proof positive that musicians want to play, even if it’s not an ideal situation, it’s not going to stop them.”
Brewer thinks that even when the quarantine ends, people will be a little cautious about jumping right into events with big crowds.
“I think people are going to be scared for a little while,” he said.
Beech Mountain Resort has put together seven online concerts throughout the month of April. If Birds Could Fly kicked things off on Saturday and Mason Via will keep things going on Monday night.
Beech Mountain Resort has teamed up with Middle Fork Records to bring you some of our favorite bands. Throughout the month of April tune in while you are self-quarantining, grab a bite, get your dancin’ shoes on, and get the family together for some great music.
All shows are free from your couch and shown on the Beech Mountain Resort Facebook page. Watch parties start nightly at 7 p.m.
Check out David Brewer’s concert on Facebook.
More information and future events for the Virtual Dinner Concert Series can be found here.