Live concerts are on the menu for home delivery, as musicians and audiences seek to satisfy their appetite for human interaction.
As the sun set in Piedmont, California, about 20 masked revelers gathered on the back porch of a home. Lit up by a few stage lights, a nearby fire and hanging garden bulbs, singer-songwriter Steve Poltz strolled in, guitar in hand, happy to be performing live again.
“Just being able to interact with folks feels so good again, because I know I needed it and I know other people needed it after being quarantined so long,” said the Nashville, Tennessee-based musician, who has performed on Facebook Live during the pandemic.
With concert venues largely shuttered over the past year, San Francisco-based concert promoter KC Turner and musician friend Megan Slankard came up with a way to bring live music directly to fans in their driveways or backyards.
“It’s a way to bring music to people safely, very small, private and bring that joy of what music is,” Turner said.
The concert series started last fall with about 35 shows throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Bookings continued through the spring.
Audiences must wear masks for the private 75-minute-long shows, except when eating or drinking, and stay socially distanced. The initial audience limit of 10 has doubled, but they must keep 12 feet away from the unmasked performers.
“I did have concerns, but I had faith in the fact that it would be done right and it has been,” said Poltz, who has been vaccinated.
Homeowners typically book shows through Turner and invite guests. Fees range from $1,000 to $5,000 based on the artist.
The roster of artists includes Donavon Frankenreiter, Clarence Greenwood (better known as Citizen Cope) and David Lowery of Cracker.
The pandemic did provide Poltz a break from constantly touring, allowing him to spend time with his ailing father and write new songs. Yet he is happy to be back on stage – even if that is the corner of a porch.
“It doesn’t matter whether you play for 100,000 people or you’re playing to 30 or 20 people. What I’m looking for is that connection. So it’s so fun to be back out,” he said.