Glen Ridge offers new model for live music during pandemic: Curbside Concerts

Glen Ridge Curbside Concerts

AVA OTTERBEIN

A new program in Glen Ridge called “Curbside Concerts” will connect local musicians to borough residents who would like to have live concerts at their homes. These will be socially distanced, half-hour concerts, with the musicians setting up on sidewalks, lawns and driveways, 20 feet away from listeners, and the $50 fee will go directly to the artists.

Glen Ridge residents who are interested must register first at register.communitypass.net/reg/index.cfm.

The services of five performers are currently offered: Rick Fischer, Anthony Tamburro, Dave Lockhart, Brad Winchell and Ava Otterbein.

“We’re just trying to run some programs out of the rec department, to keep people somewhat entertained, and give them something to do,” said Jim Cowan, Glen Ridge’s director of recreation.

Cowan, a member of the band Dead Dog’s Eye, got the idea when he learned that singer-songwriter Amy Helm was doing something like this in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

“I think she actually did it for free, and I thought it was really cool,” he said.

Glen Ridge presents a monthly singer-songwriter series, so Cowan knew a number of local singer-songwriters through that. “We’ve had to cancel three of those (singer-songwriter shows) now,” he said.

And so he created “Curbside Concerts,” he said, “just using kind of the Amy Helm model, and trying to give some of the musicians an opportunity to make a couple of dollars, since they have had all these gigs canceled on them, and at the same time trying to provide something unique, something a little different for folks. We’ll see how it goes.”

“Curbside Concerts” was announced today and one show has already been purchased, Cowan said.

These will be solo shows, with “no electric amplification … in other words, there won’t be any power available,” said Cowan. “A lot of musicians do have battery-powered amps that they can use if they want. But we’re really trying to stay conscious of social distancing, and Glen Ridge police is on board with this. They’re actually going to be monitoring the performances, to make sure everyone’s behaving themselves.

“Basically the musicians will just pull up in front of the resident’s home, and they can set up on the front sidewalk or the front lawn. The residents can sit on their front porch. If the neighbors want to come out, I’m sure that would be fine, too.”

Potential buyers can check out the musicians online (the links are provided above, as well) and communicate with them before the show, to discuss set lists, and requests, and so on.

At the moment, only Glen Ridge residents can purchase concerts, “but if the thing took off,” said Cowan, “we could certainly think about maybe joining with other towns, to do something bigger. I work well with the Montclair rec department, if they’re interested. It’d be awesome.”

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2 thoughts on “Glen Ridge offers new model for live music during pandemic: Curbside Concerts

  1. As a resident of Glen Ridge and artist myself I find charging instead of asking for a nominal donation outrageous during a financial crisis!

    • All the money goes directly to the artists. And why shouldn’t they be paid? Even in a crisis, supermarkets and gas stations charge for their goods, they don’t just ask for donations.

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