Now that Massachusetts has reopened its economy, performance-deprived musicians and artists in Newton are eagerly anticipating a chance to play in front of a live audience again.
“A musician’s ultimate passion is to play live,” said Douglas Giorgiani, a bass player from the Boston-based group F Major Band, which plans to play in Newton venues as soon as they can book a show.
Venues across the state were forced to shut their doors to musicians and regular customers alike over the last year. In Newton, Union Street Restaurant and Bar General Manager Steven Sanchez is excited to bring live music back in full force.
“The great thing is that this year, every day, we get at least five phone calls saying, ‘When’s the music back? When’s the music back?’” he said. “So there is a demand, and we’re happy that we are able to entertain people during these difficult periods.”
Giorgiani said he will not miss the struggle to record songs remotely or sending tracks electronically rather than being in the same room with his bandmates. He described how some musicians and bands went from playing live gigs every week to none at all during the pandemic.
“You want to see people, you want to be out there, you like the action,” he said.
Moni Grace, a Boston-based musician who books gigs in Newton, said before the pandemic, she and other musicians took certain aspects of live performances for granted, including what appeared to be limitless opportunities.
“I was just booking shows, and I didn’t really care. It was just another show to me,” she said.
Now that Grace has been able to secure a couple of shows in the coming months, she said it feels like she’s starting her music career all over again. She said music is her “method of healing.”
“I’ve been through a lot of traumatic experiences, and music has been the only thing that has gotten me through it,” she said.
Giorgiani said he is most looking forward to the same aspects of live performances he used to take for granted.
“Believe it or not, you enjoy having to prepare yourself for that gig,” he said. “Prepping your set-up, your instrument, and carrying that to your vehicle, driving over to the venue and putting it together, and saying ‘I’m ready for this.’”
Al Cecchinelli, director of the music program at American Legion 440 in Nonantum, said he has received an outpouring of enthusiasm from regulars who couldn’t wait for live music to continue.
“I have people that call almost every week,” he said. “I have bands that have started to reach out, and they ask ‘When are you guys gonna start booking again, we can’t wait to get back,”’ he said. “It really makes me feel good about what we’re doing that so many people are still interested.”
Sachiko Isihara, a piano teacher and executive director of the Suzuki School of Music in Newton, said students are finally back to live shows. This year, they returned to their annual spring tradition — playing music at Mount Pleasant Home, a nonprofit residential care facility for seniors in Jamaica Plain.
Isihara said even though restrictions are being lifted, Suzuki will continue to offer remote learning due to some benefits they discovered during the pandemic. For instance, students who are typically seated at the back of the classroom are now positioned “front and center” within the camera frame, making it easier for instructors to see exactly how each student is playing.
Suzuki students have been invited to perform in Newton Highlands for the Hyde Community Center on June 28, Isihara said.
“People are just asking for music, they’re asking for something to bring people together,” she said.
Giorgiani said he is eager to hear the music that will emerge from a year of uncertainty.
“Many musicians took time during this pandemic to study different aspects of music,” he said. “Believe me, when they come out, they’re going to be on fire.”
Alexandra Evans and Sebastian Jaramillo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.