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Streaming the scene with Louis Valenzuela

“It was like the best of both worlds”

Why is Louis Valenzuela smiling? Because live music is back, and he’s streaming it, too.
Why is Louis Valenzuela smiling? Because live music is back, and he’s streaming it, too.

In the days before the pandemic, guitarist Louis Valenzuela was on his way to becoming a ubiquitous force on the San Diego jazz scene. He ran a popular jazz jam session on Monday nights at Rosie O’Grady’s, and he was a member of several local bands, including the Afrojazziacs, Juice Box, and Dornob. After Covid, his profile actually got bigger, through the magic of livestreaming. He began by gathering the band from the O’Grady’s gig and setting up shop at Avant Garde Music Studios in Chula Vista (which was shuttered at the time) on Monday nights for a virtual concert.

ElectricLouieLand

“It started in March of 2020, and it was really just me sitting around trying to have a gig. Just taking what we were doing at Rosie’s and trying it out online. It went really well, right from the first, because everyone was stuck at their computer. So there weren’t many other options. I slowly began to figure out the technical problems. And after I brought Gilbert’s [Castellanos] band in, all of a sudden there’s an audience of hundreds of people. So it was interesting to hold a concert with 30 times as many people watching online.”

Now that San Diego has reopened to live music, Valenzuela is using all of the skills he developed to livestream the Castellanos shows from Panama 66 on Wednesday nights, allowing jazz fans from all over the county to reconnect from the privacy (and safety) of their own homes. “It was like the best of both worlds,” says the guitarist. “Because it’s an actual concert with a live audience and we’re streaming to an audience online, which is infinitely bigger, you know?”

Valenzuela began the whole streaming thing without much experience. “Now I know how to stream really well on all platforms, whether it’s Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, or Reddit. It was an interesting way to figure out the internet. It was a lot of trial and error. I’ve learned how to go live on my Instagram and direct people to the YouTube link. I can tell people to check out that link on Twitch or Facebook. It’s an ongoing experiment, I’m kind of doing it in a unique way. I realized over time, just by going on forums on the internet, the way I’m streaming with audio with video is unique. But it was a lot of work. I mean, I spent hours on the internet.”

Valenzuela has been documenting virtually all of his own live gigs this way. We spoke over the phone during a break from a recent Juice Box gig at the Del Mar Fair, which I caught on Facebook. And even though things are reopening now, he doesn’t envision cutting back on the livestreams. In fact, he’s planning on an expansion. “We’re going to start the weekly jazz jam again. Jeff Motch [owner of P66 and Blind Lady Ale House] invited me to do it at Blind Lady on Thursdays from 8-11. I’ve done a lot of recitals for SDSU, and I’m going to start streaming the rehearsals for Steph Johnson’s Voices of Our City as well. I’ve been sending the P66 audio over to Jazz 88.3, and they play it on Saturdays at 5 pm. I’m also doing a podcast, interviewing cats like Bob Magnusson and Peter Sprague.”

Asked about his best/worst case scenario for the future of his livestream, Valenzuela says, “It would be great if people found the channel. It would be nice to increase the audience and be able to pay the musicians. Worst case is we go back to playing gigs the old way. Either way, we’re not going to stop.”

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Why is Louis Valenzuela smiling? Because live music is back, and he’s streaming it, too.
Why is Louis Valenzuela smiling? Because live music is back, and he’s streaming it, too.

In the days before the pandemic, guitarist Louis Valenzuela was on his way to becoming a ubiquitous force on the San Diego jazz scene. He ran a popular jazz jam session on Monday nights at Rosie O’Grady’s, and he was a member of several local bands, including the Afrojazziacs, Juice Box, and Dornob. After Covid, his profile actually got bigger, through the magic of livestreaming. He began by gathering the band from the O’Grady’s gig and setting up shop at Avant Garde Music Studios in Chula Vista (which was shuttered at the time) on Monday nights for a virtual concert.

ElectricLouieLand

“It started in March of 2020, and it was really just me sitting around trying to have a gig. Just taking what we were doing at Rosie’s and trying it out online. It went really well, right from the first, because everyone was stuck at their computer. So there weren’t many other options. I slowly began to figure out the technical problems. And after I brought Gilbert’s [Castellanos] band in, all of a sudden there’s an audience of hundreds of people. So it was interesting to hold a concert with 30 times as many people watching online.”

Now that San Diego has reopened to live music, Valenzuela is using all of the skills he developed to livestream the Castellanos shows from Panama 66 on Wednesday nights, allowing jazz fans from all over the county to reconnect from the privacy (and safety) of their own homes. “It was like the best of both worlds,” says the guitarist. “Because it’s an actual concert with a live audience and we’re streaming to an audience online, which is infinitely bigger, you know?”

Valenzuela began the whole streaming thing without much experience. “Now I know how to stream really well on all platforms, whether it’s Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, or Reddit. It was an interesting way to figure out the internet. It was a lot of trial and error. I’ve learned how to go live on my Instagram and direct people to the YouTube link. I can tell people to check out that link on Twitch or Facebook. It’s an ongoing experiment, I’m kind of doing it in a unique way. I realized over time, just by going on forums on the internet, the way I’m streaming with audio with video is unique. But it was a lot of work. I mean, I spent hours on the internet.”

Valenzuela has been documenting virtually all of his own live gigs this way. We spoke over the phone during a break from a recent Juice Box gig at the Del Mar Fair, which I caught on Facebook. And even though things are reopening now, he doesn’t envision cutting back on the livestreams. In fact, he’s planning on an expansion. “We’re going to start the weekly jazz jam again. Jeff Motch [owner of P66 and Blind Lady Ale House] invited me to do it at Blind Lady on Thursdays from 8-11. I’ve done a lot of recitals for SDSU, and I’m going to start streaming the rehearsals for Steph Johnson’s Voices of Our City as well. I’ve been sending the P66 audio over to Jazz 88.3, and they play it on Saturdays at 5 pm. I’m also doing a podcast, interviewing cats like Bob Magnusson and Peter Sprague.”

Asked about his best/worst case scenario for the future of his livestream, Valenzuela says, “It would be great if people found the channel. It would be nice to increase the audience and be able to pay the musicians. Worst case is we go back to playing gigs the old way. Either way, we’re not going to stop.”

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