Local musicians are putting together a second multi-act concert on New Year’s Eve, giving area residents two shows to choose from.
The Upper Canada Musicians’ Association and the Music Performance Trust Fund, which came together for a Christmas concert earlier this month, will present “2020 in the Rear-view Mirror,” running from 7 p.m. to midnight online.
The show will happen at the same time as the broadcast of New Year’s Eve Concerts in Historic Downtown Churches, an attempt to re-create the traditional series of downtown concerts once known as “First Night.”
Both events are online as area musicians adapt to the reality of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Upper Canada Musicians show takes place at the same venue as the Christmas concert, St. John’s United Church in Brockville. Some of the show will be live-streamed, while some of the acts will be pre-recorded as a precaution to minimize contact during the current lockdown.
“We were worried about musicians crossing one another, traffic in and traffic out,” said Chris Coyea, one of the performers.
The initial plan was for the show to be entirely live, but the worsening COVID-19 situation, followed by the lockdown that took effect Boxing Day, made that impossible.
The show will be produced by Al Torrance, president of the Upper Canada musicians’ group, who also helmed the Christmas show and a fall concert series before that, all at St. John’s United Church.
People can catch the show on Facebook Live, at fb.me/e/1Nst0Rsaj, and YouTube, at youtu.be/kRwVmdhDgSs.
Local radio announcer Bruce Wylie will again MC the show, which will feature New Year’s greetings from Brockville Coun. Larry Journal, Prescott Mayor Brett Todd, MPP Steve Clark, and MP Michael Barrett.
The show will start with Freddy Vette and His Rhinestone Plowboys at 7 p.m., followed by the Amanda Keeley Band at 8 p.m.
Healy & Orr take to the stage at 9 p.m., followed an hour later by Pat Johnson and Billy McGinnis.
For the final hour of 2020, Chris Coyea and Alex Fleuriau Chateau join The Great Music Guys: Christopher Cennon, Dawn Diamond, Matthew O’Halloran, Evan Veenstra, and James MacKenzie.
As the pandemic’s second wave continues to batter the performing arts community, performances have taken on different configurations, including these two separate shows by performers who would otherwise be part of the same New Year’s Eve concert series.
Coyea said the show in which he is participating is an attempt to offer some revenue to struggling performers.
“The main difference is that the first night concerts are strictly all volunteer and that the Music Performance Trust Fund concerts that Al Torrance put together have salaries for all of the musicians involved,” he said.
“Al wanted to do that because those musicians are really hurting because there are no live music events happening.”
The Music Performance Trust Fund has made the revenue available as it helps to keep musicians afloat, noted Coyea.
“Their season of live music … basically disappeared,” he added.
People worried about having to bounce between two simultaneously broadcast New Year’s Eve concerts need not fret over this embarrassment of riches: The Upper Canada Musicians’ show will remain online during New Year’s Day, while the Churches concert will remain online after that.