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Richard Barone will perform from his living room. COURTESY RICHARD BARONE

Online at the Outpost: Thursdays and Saturdays
The series will be presented on Thursdays and Saturdays, on both the artist’s and the Outpost’s Facebook pages. Visit Facebook.com/Outpost-in-the-Burbs and outpostintheburbs.org for information.

Each artist will perform a one-hour set beginning at 7 p.m.

April 30: The Restless Age
May 2: Leslie Mendelson

May 7: John Doe
May 9: Richard Barone
May 14: Red Molly
May 16: Glen Burtnik
May 21: Crys Matthews
May 23: Andrew Combs
May 28: Dawn Landes
May 30: The Rainbow Girls

By GWEN OREL
orel@montclairlocal.news

Outpost in the Burbs was all set to present Suzzy Roche and her daughter, Lucy Wainwright Roche, on March 19.

Then the concert was cancelled.

Many of Outpost’s concerts have been rescheduled for the fall, subject to the state of the pandemic. The Roche duo have been rescheduled for March 18, 2021.

But music lovers do not have to wait that long to hear some music.

Beginning tonight, April 30, Outpost plans to present 10 concerts online on Thursdays and Saturdays, finishing at the end of May.

“Thursdays and Saturdays” is a nod to a line in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Suite Judy Blue Eyes,” said Gail Prusslin, Outpost’s head of promotions.

The concerts will take place at 7 p.m. and stream from both the artist’s and Outpost’s Facebook pages. They are free, but donations to the artists via Venmo or Paypal during the live stream are encouraged.

“We started to have conversations about a virtual series as soon as we knew we could not have the spring series,” Prusslin said. “We wanted to do this because we love to build the community through music.

“This way of bringing people together, and feeling connected, is so important now when people are feeling isolated.”

The online concerts will also help the artists: Outpost is able to pay the artists a stipend, due to some available funds left from some robust years, and Venmo and Paypal may help as well.

“We have had a loyal audience,” Prusslin said. The organization has no paid staff, so it cannot apply for any government grants. Outpost is looking for businesses that may want to sponsor an event.

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READ: COVID-19: ARTS AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS REACT

READ: ONLINE MUSIC CLASSES BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER IN A VIRTUAL WORLD

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Some of the artists have done shows this way already; a few are new to it.

Restless Age and The Rainbow Girls live together, so they will be able to perform together. Red Molly’s members live separately, so they will not be able to perform their usual close harmonies: There is still a lag on all streaming services.

“But we know that the music-loving audience is very forgiving and flexible,” Prusslin said. “People are happy to support artists and come together. If there are glitches and technical issues, we will try to work it out. As time goes on, people will get better at it. People are just trying to figure it out.”

The concerts are shorter than they would be onsite, because people have a limited ability to watch a computer. Prusslin said that sitting at a screen all day is affecting her physically.

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Abbie Gardner, left, Laurie MacAllister, and Molly Venter of Red Molly. COURTESY WHITNEY KIDDER

‘SURPRISINGLY REWARDING’

Molly Venter, of Red Molly, said her group is experimenting with recording technology for harmony singing, but they have not figured out how to do this live.

At their concert on May 14, she and the other members of the group will pass the baton, and perform individually. Viewers can watch at Outpost, or at Red Molly’s Facebook page

Red Molly began in 2004 and was named not for Venter, who joined the group in 2010, but after a song, “1952 Vincent Black Light,” by Montclair’s Richard Thompson.

Venter has a home studio that is totally paneled, with mics and cameras. She has enjoyed being able to spend more time writing and recording, rather than driving and sound-checking. Her husband, Eben Pariser, is also in Red Molly, and also teaches and produces. Venter and her husband are expecting twins and have a child at home already, so she particularly appreciates the home time.

Her income has taken a big hit, but her family’s expenses have also gone down.

Virtual live shows, Venter said, are “surprisingly rewarding. I didn’t think it would feel as community-driven as it did. I thought it would be like singing into the void. The comments help, and put my mind into a different place. I’m singing. There’s no applause, but I trust we are having the experience together.”

Her friends who teach meditation online are telling her the same, she said. “While it’s not the same as being in a room with somebody, it is surprisingly effective,” she said.

“We’re lucky to have the tools at this point.”

Not having to drive is a plus, but, like Prusslin, she finds herself on the computer too much.

Still, she’s grateful Outpost is providing music online. There’s something special about people being part of a live experience right now, she said.

Singer/songwriter Richard Barone, of The Bongos, said that, as a musician, “it’s in my DNA to perform. It’s a need like breathing or eating, whether it’s with students in the classroom or onstage.” He will perform in the Online series on May 9.

Barone is teaching “Music and Revolution: Greenwich Village in the 1960s” at The New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in the autumn. The Bongos had been booked for a March show that was cancelled; they are currently rebooked for the Outpost on Sept. 11.

Unlike Venter, he has not performed a whole concert virtually before. Knowing he won’t be able to read the audience and feel its energy as he usually does, he’s adding an interactive component by soliciting requests for his set on his Facebook page.  

“It’s a new art form,” Barone said. “For a new generation of people it’s not that unusual. It’s not that out of the ordinary for millenials and younger.  Live performance in some form, even if virtual, is not replaceable. Recorded music is one thing, you can replay it. But spontaneous live performance, with all the dangers of mistakes or anything else, is a necessity for music fans, too. 

“My goal is to make something that is going to grab your attention the way a live concert will. I will try to make it as engaging.”

It will be a challenge to sustain that energy for a whole hour. While Barone loves technology, his home studio is very simple. “I will be broadcasting from my MacBook,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t have a TV studio in my living room.”

His set will be acoustic and natural.  He has been writing songs while locked down. His new song, “World of Tomorrow,” with images of vacant streets in New York City, is up on Barone’s YouTube channel.

Being alone with his guitars has inspired him to write. But he’s lost some good friends to the disease, including “Saturday Night Live” musical director Hal Wilner.

“When I look out my window at the Village, which is usually thriving with people, the streets are completely empty. That’s creepy,” he said. But despite the shock, he will continue making music.

“I’m trying not to be stopped,” he said. “One of my jobs as an artist is to continue regardless.”