Happy Ron Hill writes happy songs for unhappy times.
With the closure of area bars and sit-down restaurant service, several locals who lost gigs are choosing to telecast performances for stay-at-home viewing. “We uploaded a full concert, professionally filmed,” says Ron Houston of the Sickstring Outlaws, whose Ramona Mainstage performance can be found on the Reader site and YouTube. At just under an hour, the nine-song setlist comes with a “mature” warning due to the band’s invitation to enjoy your self-quarantine with odes to home partying such as “Just an Old Empty Bottle,” “Johnny Drank Jack,” and “Cocaine Blues.”
Happy Ron Hill "I've Seen So Much Bad So I'm Gonna Do Good"
“I’ve barely missed a week at Lestat’s in more than ten years,” says open mic vet Happy Ron Hill, who specializes in upbeat songs stressing positivity. He immediately seized on one upshot: “Time to stop playing and start writing.” For the foreseeable future, Hill is releasing a new song of encouragement each week, happy songs for unhappy times, with custom created lyric and performance videos on his Facebook and YouTube channels. His newest was just uploaded to the Reader site as well, a live performance of “I’ve Seen So Much Bad So I’m Gonna Do Good” with guest bassist Paul Tillery. He'll be streaming a live Facebook concert from home on Saturday, March 28 at 2pm.
Winstons is among the temporary closures, but videographer David Blood has partnered with the venue to create a Winstons video concert channel. “I shoot local bands live, with multitrack audio and multiple cameras,” he says. He has additional local-centic content on his own BloodshotMovies website. “I do full shows and select songs, including performances at the Tower Bar and elsewhere,” he says. “I have AJ Froman from Winstons in the works, and Hamell On Trial at PB Cantina about half edited.”
Many performance videos and audio files are now streaming on the Reader site, which has launched its own Local Concert Database, with publicly shared audio and video files of concerts taking place in San Diego from the late ‘70s (prog rockers Camel at the Roxy in PB) through this month. Events were recorded at long-gone venues such as the Bacchanal, the Flash Café, Sound FX, Chiller’s, 4th & B. Local musicians are invited to post their own area performances, audio or video, old or new, with preference given to recent multi-song setlists (contact [email protected]).
Other upcoming local-centric online internet events include weekly Spreckels organ concerts provided online via this link, and San Diego Musical Theatre musical director Don LeMaster's new Facebook Live streaming performance show co-created with singer Corey Hable.
Canadian transplants Daring Greatly have launched Quarantine Sessions Fridays at 7pm each week on Facebook. The San Diego Performing Arts League and Arts Tix has created a SafeShow streaming hub, where locals are invited to record themselves singing a song from their favorite musical, so they can be uploaded to League's SafeShow and Instagram pages. Details (along with technical requirements) can be found here. Additional upcoming live performance streams are posted several times weekly in the Reader, both in the Blurt Music News feed and the Your Week events column.
Dan Lederman says he’s performed at least one local open mic each week, usually in North County, for around 15 years now. He’s best known for his ShatMan persona in which he impersonates William Shatner singing songs suggested by the audience, with improvisational arrangements in the histrionic spoken-word style of the “singer” and actor. “I have a subsidized housing arrangement, but pretty much all the money I live off of comes from passing around the tip jar, selling my CDs [He’s Dead Jim and 21st Century ShatMan], and networking with people who hire me for parties and stuff. It was only a hundred bucks a week but, between that and busking with my guitar and Pignose [amplifier], I’ve been able to make an okay living. That all stopped dead this week, so now I’m setting up a live stream on YouTube, where I want to do at least two concerts a week.”
The question is how to monetize his online performance channel. “I don’t qualify as a commercial account, but I have a PayPal address that I’ll include with uploads. [I’ll] try to appeal to people that, if they like what they hear, they should drop a dollar in the bucket. Everyone knows someone who’s in trouble right now, who doesn’t know how they’re going to pay their bills, or how long this is going to last. The one thing you can count on is that people going through this are creating a lot of amazing art and music. They shouldn’t have to do it alone.”
“And they definitely shouldn’t have to do it for free.”