OTTAWA — The finishing touches were added Thursday afternoon to the “2020 in the rear view mirror” concert at St. John United Church in Brockville, one of many virtual New Year’s Eve celebrations being held this year around the world.
The Upper Canada Musicians Association (UCMA) put together the concert, with funding from the music industry’s Performing Trust Fund.
“Luckily we were able to get some funding and really the money is truly an important thing to have right now for musicians because they are not getting enough money in their pockets right now,” said UCMA President Al Torrance.
“They are probably hit the hardest in this industry. Musicians would normally be working tonight, so I thought we have all this money available, what a perfect way to give some musicians some cash at least to tie them over into some of the lean months that are coming up.”
The event came together in about a month and will showcase five local bands, including the Amanda Keeley Band, who were recording their performance on Thursday.
“We’ve maybe played five shows where we’ve actually been able to make some money, so it’s definitely a great opportunity and we’re super grateful for it,” Keeley said.
“Every year in Brockville, the Upper Canada Musicians Union puts together a New Year’s Eve concert for everybody normally throughout different churches in Brockville,” Keeley said, “This year because of COVID, we’ve narrowed it down to one church and since the lockdown we are basically filming prior too and it will air this evening from 7 p.m. to midnight.”
The four other local bands performing will include Freddy Vette and the Rhinestone Plowboys, Healy and Orr, Pat Johnston and Billy McGinnis and Chris Coyea with Alex Fleuriau Chateau.
Each band will play for an hour, with the show hosted by Brockville’s own Bruce Wylie.
“We are going to be having a few of our dignitaries stopping by and wishing everybody a Happy New Year as well,” added Torrance, saying he can’t remember how many hours it’s taken to put the show together.
“We’ve been putting on these programs ever since the beginning of September so yeah, it’s a lot of work. Hours? I wouldn’t even want to put a number on it right now,” Torrance said with a laugh.
“We have a small glimmer of hope here that we are going to keep fostering and hopefully bring that into the community, and communities have been wrapping their arms around it.”
Torrence was also thankful for St. John’s United Church stepping up to provide a location to record the concert.
“The Arts Centre here in town, it’s all closed up. Nost of the government buildings are all closed up but the churches can still remain open. We are doing our best to keep the musicians protected and safe so they can entertain everybody,” Torrance said.
“We’re just happy to be here doing this because we know that we can’t do it live with people,” said Keeley. “It’s nice to be able to have something pre-recorded and have something for everybody to enjoy so they have a little bit of live music to ring in the New Year.”
“It’s wonderful that they were able to support local musicians,” she added. “Just bringing the community together once again especially with the lockdown, people need that sense of connection and community. So it’s really great to be part of this.”
“I just hope everybody enjoys the music, we’re really looking forward to playing for everybody and looking forwards to hearing all the other musicians too,” Keeley said.
“You guys are in store for a great lineup so thank you so much for tuning in.”
“This wouldn’t be my traditional New Years for sure,” said Torrance. “I’d like to wish everybody a happy New Year. It’s going to be a hard ride and we have to all do our part but I think if we keep doing what we’re doing and do it the best we can, we’ll be able to get back together in these churches with a few people in it. That’s the plan.”
To watch the Brockville virtual New Year’s Eve concert, search “Upper Canada Musicians” on YouTube and Facebook.
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