Local musicians feel the dual-sting of loss with closed live venues | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Local musicians feel the dual-sting of loss with closed live venues

Rick Halisheff (Poppa Dawg).
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Rick Halisheff Facebook page

Long after many wannabe artists put down their instruments, Rick Halisheff has endured.

As a blues guitarist better known as Poppa Dawg, music has always put bread on the table, whether it’s hustling to find gigs every day of the week as a solo artist, with a band, or both.

When pandemic precautions were put in place, he joined the millions of Canadians who can’t work and while that’s an obvious worry to contend with, he’s found it’s not the only one.

“One of the worst parts of it is not having the money, but not playing for an audience — I didn’t realize until now how ‘live-centric’ I am. My whole life revolves around it,” he says.

Few artists persist for the money because they’ll tell you there never was much of it. They do it for the interaction and that’s something they can’t get right now.

“It’s like crack to a musician,” he says. “I feed off the audience sometimes... There’s such synergy from an audience, and the fact you’re playing live is real, tangible."

Halisheff says he been forced into teaching music since the COVID-19 crisis, and to his surprise, is liking it.

“I’m not much of a teacher. It’s something I’ve been forced into doing, and I actually like it. There have been worthy aspects from this forced change that probably wouldn’t otherwise have happened to me, personally,” he says.

Halisheff has tried to earn income by holding online music lessons in addition to staging a couple of shows from his office, broadcasting them on Facebook and asking for donations.

“It’s wiped us out, every one of us... When all your revenue streams dry up immediately, you do whatever you can to make it up,” he says.

Brad Krauza.
Brad Krauza.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Brad Krauza Facebook page

Brad Krauza has also been a staple of B.C. Interior live music venues most recently as a member of The Young’Uns band and has other businesses that parallel the industry. It’s hard to give it up.

“I play music because it’s part of my blood, I love it,” he says. "If I need to play the guitar, I pick it up and play it. I am missing the adulation of the crowds. The fan base is what keeps you going up there.”

“If someone shows up and says, 'oh you were awesome,’ well, that’s why we do it,” Krauza says.

The pandemic has brought it all to a standstill, but he’s trying to find a bright side among the uncertainty.

“I work 50 weeks a year in music, and I lost all my weekend work. It was like a light switch going off. Suddenly, you’re on hold,” Krauza says. “For someone like me who is in business for myself, I work seven days a week, 10 to 18 hour days and I gig every weekend. To have that all of a sudden completely stop, it’s almost like a breath of fresh air to me, even though I’m stressed about things like rent, which is due, and I don’t have it.”

He says he knows a lot of people who are "resetting and regrouping," and re-evaluating the amount of work they are doing.

“I’m sitting on a patio, in the sun, on recharge mode because I don’t have a choice, and that’s making me feel okay,” he says. “That’s the positive side of it."

Krauza is planning on doing something like live streaming on Facebook in a bid to reach out and connect with fans.

The Jack and Jill band.
The Jack and Jill band.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Jack and Jill Facebook page

Mandy Cole is lead singer for the Kamloops rock and roll band Jack and Jill. Her husband is also drummer for the band, which is not the couple’s main source of income.

Video conferencing and live streaming can help a lot of people get business done while in isolation, but it's no help for rehearsal. She worries about staying sharp but in the meantime, she’s also yearning to get back before a live audience.

“I miss the energy and appreciate how lucky we are when we do live shows. Having everyone together, with the energy of the crowd and our band, there are sometimes some awesome moments that happen when we are live. This shutdown is making us appreciate that a lot more,” she says.

Cole, too, has found the sudden dead stop has given her a bit of forced solace that she is able to appreciate.

“I’ve been so busy, I haven’t minded the break, but ask me in another week or two and I’ll probably be stir crazy,” she laughs. “It has been nice to slow down, take a moment to reflect, but in a couple of weeks, it may not feel that great.”

Poppa Dawg is also trying to find silver linings and perhaps some wisdom for all of us.

“This isn’t forcing me to change just for now, it’s forcing me to change for the future, is how I’m looking at it,” Halisheff says.

“Everything you do kind of leads up to where you are. We do the best we can with what we have."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to tips@infonews.ca and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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