Are you going into “live music” withdrawal? With social distancing and shelter-in-place rules being enacted, concerts in theaters, clubs and bars no longer are available. So what’s a person to do? Well, William Lederer, executive director of the Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath, thinks he’s got an answer to this problem: an online streaming concert series called “Live From Home.” I called him last Monday to find out more about this innovative project, and if you are intrigued as I am read on and learn — as the late Paul Harvey used to say — the rest of the story.

Q: This whole “social distancing” thing makes it really difficult for people to get out and take in a concert, to hear live music.
Lederer: Oh yes, it’s impossible … we’re all sort of dealing with it as we can and hopefully come up with some creative solutions. But, yeah, it’s pretty unbelievable what it’s doing.

Q: Well, from what I’ve heard, you’ve come up with a creative idea of your own — what is your contribution going to be like, and is it something you’re going to continue on for a while?
Lederer: Yeah, I would like to … especially in the next few weeks or months — whatever it’s going to be. I would like to do as many of these as I possibly can, a lot of artists seem excited about the opportunity — they are facing a lot of canceled shows, a lot of lost income, that sort of thing, and we’re going to be splitting all of the donations with the artists that come in. So the real silver-lining part of this is: if this is something that really works well — which it has been so far — it may be something that we keep doing even after we’re on the other side of this.

Q: So, do they come into the Chocolate Church to broadcast these shows?
Lederer: Nope, this is something that can be done completely from their homes, which is where we should all be at the moment.

Q: Exactly.
Lederer: Yeah, that was sort of the idea, and I think it kind of adds to the fun of it being this interesting view into an artist’s home — maybe it’s the space that they write music from or that kind of thing.

Q: Now, you’re the executive director of the Chocolate Church. Is this project under its auspices?
Lederer: It is, yeah, and we’re calling it “Live From Home — presented by the Chocolate Church Arts Center.” It’s an online concert series. So, yeah, it’s very much our production and we were fortunate enough to get the series sponsored by Bath Savings Institution — we’re very, very grateful for those people … they rock, we love them a lot.

Q: I’ve heard that you’ve already kicked off these performances; do you have anything solidified for April yet?
Lederer: Well, I’ve solidified two for the weekend of the 3rd and the 4th. The 3rd is Peter Alexander of the Hollowbody Electric Band, and the 4th is Lauren Crosby. And I’m just going to keep going until we’re out of the woods, you know, and even then we just might continue it.

Q: What do the artists themselves think of this opportunity?
Lederer: They seem to be excited by it overall — a lot of people are doing this, I’m seeing more and more of these streaming performances pop up. And I’ve been very grateful and very happy for how willing they’ve been to get onboard — it’s been, I’d say, about half and half between me reaching out to the artists and artists actually reaching out to me. Honestly, though, I think they’d rather have a real, live audience in a real, live theater, but these are pretty concerning times — people are very anxious and its music and the arts that’s really one of the best things we have to fight that sort of difficult feeling. So, I think artists are happy to be able to 1) offer that to an audience, and 2) I think it’s very cathartic for the artists themselves to be able to do stuff like this.

Q: And another silver lining for them is that they get to hit an audience that’s potentially bigger than any theater in the state.
Lederer: Yeah, yeah — absolutely. I mean, you can stream to just about as many people that are willing to tune it.

Q: So, how do folks go about getting this service on their devices?
Lederer: Sure, it’s really easy. All people need to do it go to the Chocolate Church Arts Center Facebook page — it’s right there — I’m going to centralize it all so the artist will just stream from our page, possibly to their own pages simultaneously if they can figure out how to do it, but they will all be streamed via the Chocolate Church Facebook page … it would be www.facebook.com/chocolate-church-arts-center.

Q: Could people connect from your website, as well — is that a possibility?
Lederer: There’ll be a link on the website directly to the page — the website is chocolatechurcharts.org. And there’s also a link on there to donate, as well, because that’s obviously part of this.

Q: Before we close, is there anything, William, that we haven’t discussed that you think we should?
Lederer: No, I don’t think so, I feel like we’ve pretty much covered it. It’s nice to be able to do something like this for people — people seem to be really liking it —and if we can provide some entertainment in the process, I’ll be happy.

Author’s Note: Until the theaters, clubs and restaurants start having live concerts again, I’ll be focusing in on this new way of live music consumption — probably with interviews with the artists that are going to be doing these online performances. Welcome to the “new normal”!

Lucky Clark has spent over 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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