Indigo Girls, Coy Bowles of Zac Brown Band among artists going live online to entertain fans
Chris Martin, Keith Urban, John Legend and other musicians doing the same
Emily Saliers (left) and Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, will perform a free Facebook Live concert for fans on March 19, 2020. Photo: Jeremy Cowart
By Melissa Ruggieri
March 18, 2020
Earlier this week, Chris Martin hopped onto the Coldplay Instagram account for a chat with fans. Using the hashtag #TogetherAtHome, Martin played a few Coldplay songs (and a Bowie cover) on piano and guitar in his home studio, telling 60,000-plus viewers around the world that he was currently isolated from his bandmates, who were in different countries.
Neil Young, whose tour plans with his band Crazy Horse have been postponed, announced that his neilyoungarchives.com will soon be the site of a "Fireside Sessions" performance series, where he will play from home with his wife, actress Daryl Hannah, serving as the camera operator.
They aren’t the first celebrity entertainment couple to grasp the idea. Keith Urban recently livestreamed a concert on Instagram from his basement with wife Nicole Kidman helping out on background vocals and dance moves.
Artists ranging from John Legend to Pink to Luke Combs to Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard (performing nightly at 7 on Facebook Live) are utilizing social media to connect with fans otherwise deprived of live music during these unprecedented self-isolating times as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the globe.
For newer artists who rely on tour revenue, the inability to play live is especially crippling. Many independent musicians have scheduled regular performances online and solicited donations. Atlanta musicians can access Kimono My House, a virtual house concerts site on Facebook started by Andy Gish of the Yum Yum Tree and Kim Ware of the Good Graces, which encourages both impromptu and scheduled live takes, and suggests performers include a PayPal or Venmo link in their performance posts.
But established artists who are in a position to perform for free – “blessed,” says Emily Saliers – are eager to share their music with fans.
Saliers and music partner Amy Ray of Indigo Girls will hit Facebook Live at 6 p.m. March 19 for a set of songs and a Q&A session with devotees. They'll broadcast from an undisclosed location in Decatur – just the twosome and "one other healthy person" to handle fans' questions.
Like a multitude of other musicians, Indigo Girls’ lineup of upcoming live shows were nixed. Saliers said as they were making the decision to cancel concerts, she and Ray were planning to do the livestream.
“It’s terrible to cancel a show for us, but we had to do it for the public good,” Saliers said earlier this week from her home in Decatur, where she and her family are hunkered down. “We wanted to provide something for all of the people who were going to buy a ticket and come to a show, so we figured maybe we can all be in it together.”
Indigo Girls are readying the release of a new album, “Look Long,” on April 24 (for now), and Saliers expects that they’ll play a couple of new tunes during the performance.
“I really feel this is a wake-up call, not only to our humanity, but the way we have to take care of our literal health,” Saliers said. “Global health comes first and it’s an important thing that we’re able to make the sacrifice and move some tour dates to the fall.”
If the response to the Facebook Live is solid – or they hear from fans who weren’t able to tune in live – Saliers and Ray are already prepared to do another.
“We really just want to connect with listeners,” Saliers said.
Another Atlanta-based artist turning to social media – and possibly giving parents a respite – is Coy Bowles, guitarist/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist for the Zac Brown Band.
For about a decade, Bowles has moonlighted as a creator of children's books and songs and on March 27, he will release his first children's album, "Music for Tiny Humans" (physical CDs are available at www.coybowles.com).
“I knew there would be a lot of parents with kids at home and music is one of those things that can keep the household light and energetic,” he said. “My point of view is, I have an album that is supposed to come out in May, the music is made, so why not share it and my experience with my family while we’re home? The worst-case scenario is I’ll turn on a song from the album and we’ll have a big dance party!”
Bowles and his wife Kylie are parents to Millie Mercy, 2, and Hattie, 3. Creativity is a mandate in the household, and Bowles firmly believes in the effect of music on the psyche.
“I think it’s one of the more positive messages, especially with children understanding social distancing. Why is that important? Well, because we have to all be in this together. But for older kids who might have anxiety, the uniting message is important.”
Bowles said he plans to hold the daily Facebook Live sessions “for as long as I can” and is approaching it with nothing but good intentions.
“I’m perfecting it as I go,” he said. “I could get overwhelmed with the idea that this should look like a certain kind of production. But as long as the sentiment is there…”
Melissa Ruggieri has covered music and entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution since 2010 and created the Atlanta Music Scene blog. She's kept vampire hours for more than two decades and remembers when MTV was awesome.