Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, all forms of nightlife have come to a halt over the last month or so, which stinks for a town like Durango, which, on any given pre-pandemic night, boasted just about endless going-out options, especially when it came to live music.
And now that venues have been shuttered temporarily to aid in social distancing, musicians have gotten creative and have taken their acts to the internet – and so have the people and organizations that want to help those who have lost their livelihoods.
For two nights – Sunday and Monday – tune in to local radio stations or Facebook for CERF The Airwaves Online and On-Air Music Festival, a virtual festival to benefit the Community Emergency Relief Fund and the Four Corners Performing Artist Relief. This event is brought to you by American General Media and KSUT Presents.
Musicians from here in Durango and around the region will perform sets lasting 30 minutes to an hour. Scheduled to perform are: Rob Webster, Birds of Play, Fred Kosak of Stillhouse Junkies, Caitlin Cannon, The Ground Beneath, Robby Overfield, PJ Moon & The Swappers and Devin Scott.
The festival will be broadcasting live on 99X (99.7 FM – KKDG), The Point (92.9 FM – KPTE), 98.7 FM – KRTZ and KSUT. Bands will also be streaming live on Facebook at facebook.com/cerftheairwavesmusicfestival.
Dustin Nolen, operations manager and program director of AGM Durango, said listeners and those watching on Facebook will be able to donate by clicking on links to the donations on the CERF The Airwaves Facebook page. Performers will also put links in their live videos. Nolen will also go on air between the bands to remind people to donate, how they can donate and where they can go to donate.
The Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado has activated the Community Emergency Relief Fund – CERF – in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. CERF was established in 2008 in response to the Seasons Restaurant Fire. The fund has also been activated for the Gold King Mine spill in 2015, the Adobe Building Fire in Pagosa Springs in 2016 and the 416 Fire in 2018. The iAM MUSIC Institution has started the Four Corners Performing Artist Relief because of the effect the widespread cancellation of events has had on the region’s performing arts community.
“It’s hard to find somebody who doesn’t at least know somebody who’s been impacted greatly by this, if they haven’t been impacted greatly themselves,” Nolen said. “I know that we’re impacted ourselves, and we have a lot of friends that are really struggling right now. They need some help. Jack Llewellyn from the Chamber of Commerce, when he recommended the Community Emergency Relief Fund, we thought that was a great way to go because then the people who need the help the most can get it through a lot of the nonprofits that organization helps. And that the people who have lost their jobs can get some funds, if not, at least some food or something that can help them out.”
Local musician Robby Overfield is one of the artists who will perform during the festival. Since the shutdown, he has been livestreaming shows, some he promotes, some he doesn’t, he said. He’s also made progress on his third album and is trying to work on things he normally wouldn’t have the time to do.
“This is nice because it’s for me and I get to really focus on, especially now that there’s a lot of material in my head with everything’s that’s been going on, it’s really given me a chance to slow down and get back in touch with that side of music, which I really enjoy,” he said. “My dad’s a jazz player in Detroit, he was a Motown drummer and everything, and I grew up watching him play. And so it’s really just kind of gotten me back to my roots and I’ve enjoyed it, it’s been fine. Do I miss playing for people? Of course. I miss that social interaction as much as the next person and that energy you get on stage, but I’m finding that that energy just shifts.”
Overfield said the event is important not only to the people and organizations that will ultimately receive help from the fundraiser, it’s an way to give back to the community.
“I think it’s important just to recognize that people like myself and others are ready and willing to play and perform regardless of the situation. We’re all avid community members, most of us participate in other community events and obligations. So I think it’s important because first, it’s going to raise awareness that we’re not going anywhere, we’re still here playing music, we’re still working on it and we still want to give people an opportunity to listen,” he said. “This is all about community, this has nothing to do with one person, this has nothing to do with my set from 6 to 7 or anyone else’s set. It’s just any time I get the opportunity to contribute and help with my community that’s given so much to me, it’s a no-brainer. This town gives back 10 times what you give to it, and I just feel like, I wouldn’t say it’s an obligation, but I do; I feel like it’s something that I owe to my community and the people that have supported me to try to support them in their time of need, too.”
Caitlin Cannon is another artist scheduled to perform during the festival. Right before everything was shut down, Cannon, who was splitting her time between Durango and Nashville, Tennessee, was getting ready to release a record and head out on a release tour, which was canceled. She also has a business in Durango that was shut down because of the pandemic.
“And now I don’t have either of those,” she said, adding that she has been performing online shows and getting a lot of writing done.
For Cannon, despite the digital platform, livestreaming does offer a feeling of connection.
“For one thing, people can just drop in and out; that’s kind of the cool thing about the online shows,” she said. “There is a little sense of community.”
There’s a learning curve, though, she said: “What’s different for me is that people aren’t clapping, so I don’t know if my jokes are landing. And it’s hard to read comments while playing.”
It’s this sense of community in a time when can’t we enjoy live music in person that can help keep us sane.
“It’s my opinion that the arts are really important,” she said. “I feel like it’s really building community in a digital way when we can’t actually be together.”
And, when faced with tough times, Nolen said, the community unites.
“Durango’s a very giving community, and we knew that even though nobody really has anything to give right now, Durango always comes together and finds a way to help each other out,” he said.