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Calgary musicians strike a positive chord as coronavirus prevents live public shows

Calgary musicians are staying in touch with fans, playing intimate shows online and using social media to help people feel better and combat mental health strain of COVID-19.

Barry Mason, a Calgary-based musician and the leader of the funk/soul group Sweet Barry Wine, said he’s been struggling to adapt to all the changes being thrown at people these days and wanted to give people a boost.

“One of the big things is that we can’t interact with people in the same way that we’ve been doing for however long we’ve been doing it,” Mason said.

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“So, for me, that kind of affects me and everyone. I play for groups of people; I play with people and I teach people in person. So now, we’re in a period where we can’t do that anymore.”

Now, besides playing and sharing his music online, he’s also giving tutorials for people to practice their guitar skills.

Mason has received messages from his music fans requesting songs and also guitar tutorials. He posts different songs every day and also live feeds to get people involved and unite.

He knows there’s a lot of fear and anxiety – some people are alone in isolation. One of the things that musicians can do is help others keep a real human connection.

Taking advantage of online platforms to reach fans

The Ashley Hundred. CONTRIBUTED

Andrew Franks, frontman for The Ashley Hundred, a Calgary-based psychedelic rock band, said he and his bandmates are coming up with ideas and ways to record and play their music online.

“Last night I posted a little bit of a 90s tune and then just asked everyone, what are the 90s songs they want us to play? Because, you know, we’re working in isolation as well and got nothing but time on our hands. So, I figured we’ll learn some 90s songs and see what other people want to hear,” he said.

Like many bands in Calgary, The Ashley Hundred have had their upcoming shows cancelled due to COVID-19. With various online platforms like Instagram, they can still release their music and reach their fans.

Franks recognizes that we’re all in this together and that people are home getting bored. But people can still be close despite social distancing.

“I want to go out and see some bands on the local scene. But, you know, we can’t do that right now. So, it’d be nice to be able to scratch that itch but at home.” Franks said.

“I think it’s cool that, you know, people are posting videos and coming up with creative ways to play shows online and it is great to be a part of that.”

Calgarians are using social media more than ever to be able to connect and listen to music. It’s helping people with loneliness and isolation, and it’s giving people that feeling of being together, said Franks.

“It’s actually given me a better appreciation for the people in my life and you know I want to call up my friends and family and you know see how they’re doing. And I’ve been doing my best telling everybody that I love them because you know who knows how long this will last. Love is what we need,” said Franks.