Somehow I don’t think this is the way the pioneer blues artists envisioned it when they played on their porches in the Delta.
The Mohawk Valley Blues Society’s (MVBS) Open Jams have become one of the most popular local concert series, presenting the best in blues music for over 15 years until the Coronavirus shutdown brought everything to a screeching halt. Even then, the MVBS regrouped and was able to continue the series by moving it outside. That is, until the good weather made that impossible. So what do you do when these live performances are no longer viable?
You do what everyone else has done — you go online.
On Dec. 10, the Mohawk Valley Blues Society presented the first in its series of virtual blues concerts, featuring Stratcat Willie and the Strays from the Southern Tier. Two weeks later they followed that up with one of CNY’s most popular artists, Colin Aberdeen from the band Los Blancos playing a solo set.
“The MVBS has continued to present performances by regional blues musicians and I was excited to get in the mix,” says Aberdeen. “They’re a really nice bunch of blues lovers who have put on some great events, so when I got a message inquiring about my interest in doing a virtual show I was excited to do so.”
“Virtual shows have their own magic of connection which allows you to reach a far broader audience over a wider stretch of time,” he notes.
Next up will be The Brian Mulkerne Band at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, presented on the Mohawk Valley Blues Society web page at mvblues.org. A virtual tip jar will be provided and generosity is strongly encouraged since the artists are donating their time.
“I have enjoyed lots of online and streaming shows, and like the easy format of just turning on the camera and catching what you do as it happens,” explains Mulkerne, “I also really enjoy acoustic approaches to blues and this is an opportunity to show others the kind of things we are playing.”
Mulkerne is a guitarist and singer/songwriter who has performed throughout Central New York with The Brian Mulkerne Band, as well as in solo, duo, and other projects. Up until the live shows were shut down, Mulkerne was one of the hardest working musicians in the Utica area, bringing his blues/folk/Americana show to numerous events and venues, and now he’s anxious to bring this style to a wider audience.
“I really like the acoustic style of blues we are playing, with guitar, bass, fiddle and cajon,” says Mulkerne. “We have been doing mainly the same songs but in some different rhythms than with a full drum kit.”
So mark your calendars so you don’t miss this chance to bring blues into your living room.
Mark Sisti is an experienced performer who writes about local music for the Observer-Dispatch. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.