Here in the early days of what could become a summer of lockdown, a few musicians have immediately stood out as innovators. I would like to spotlight them.
Virtual Shows CLE
Michelle Gaw of Mimi Arden is a respected local singer-songwriter who has been playing shows and hosting other musicians with her Virtual Shows CLE. Concerts are hosted via Zoom, a conference calling software. A tip jar is advertised during the show, and at the end, the pot is split evenly between the performers to help them make ends meet.
Now Virtual Shows CLE has teamed up with another local powerhouse, the Brite Winter Music Festival, and things look very promising for this platform. She was recently interviewed on WKYC Channel 3, and appeared on Dave “Ziggy” Deitke’s Zig At The Gig Podcast.
Supporting local music is nothing new for Michelle. During regular operations, she’s the host of Open Mic Night at Visible Voice Books in Tremont, and Mimi Arden plays at the best local venues all the time. I was not surprised at all to discover that it was her spearheading this movement into the unknown.
48 Hour Livestream Concert &
(Not Just Another) Manic Monday Open Mic
Perhaps no one has worked harder for local music since lockdown than Miss Meganne Stepka of Meg & The Magnetosphere. She’s already accomplished two huge projects.
The first is one of the most ambitious undertakings I have ever witnessed in the local scene. Meg lead a team that hosted the 48 Hour Livestream Concert, with 48 artists each playing an hour set (myself included). Cleveland Magazine ran a feature on her and the show. Each performer’s live video was posted on the event page, so anyone could tune into the show at any time for two entire days. And now, we can listen back to each set on the page. This has been a great opportunity for me to discover talent I haven’t come across before. I began to consider the logistics of running this event, got a headache, and decided to work on my setlist instead, in the meantime tripling my respect for Meg and her dedication to the scene.
Faced with the cancellation of her two open mic nights, on Mondays at Kelley’s Pub, and on Tuesdays at The Winchester (both in Lakewood), Meg started a Zoom group for performers to continue getting together and sharing their songs. I’ve attended the first two, and the atmosphere is a totally unique new experience; because spectators’ microphones are muted while the current act performs, it more closely resembles a Nashville listening room than a typical open mic night, where people are chatting at the bar. And because it’s virtual, performers from all over America have been attending; a friend of hers from Texas has been a regular, and I brought my buddy Jesse Barki from Lancaster, PA’s Sun Not Yellow along. So it’s been an interesting mix of talent from around the country. Come join the next event, and invite your favorite musical talents- join early to get on the list first! Be sure to tip your favorite performers.
Meg’s work should absolutely not go unnoticed. Be sure to catch her closing set for the 48 Hour Stream, and throw a dollar in her Venmo (@Meg-Stepka) so she can keep doing what she’s doing.