Live music returns! JUNO Award-winning performers took on the stage of Westdale Theatre in Hamilton last week to perform for to a limited, socially-distanced live audience, as well as to virtually thousands via web-stream. Canadian bluesman (and Hamiltonian) Steve Strongman sat down to discuss the blues with Mike McCurlie as well as performed for a web-streamed event ‘Hamilton Originals Live’. The show demonstrated why Strongman is currently one of the most exciting artists on the International Blues scene today.
Another JUNO award-winning jazz vocalist Diana Panton joined Steve and performed her first concert post lockdown. The singer spoke with Ikon London Magazine following the show.
“The lockdown felt surreal,” admitted Diana. “My bags were packed to head to the JUNO celebrations where my recent album was up for a nomination. From there, I was supposed to fly to Paris for March Break. Everything shut down the day before my departure. I was disappointed for sure but grateful that I didn’t travel to France and then have to go through the ordeal of getting back home in a pandemic.” And, perhaps an experience that is shared by the majority of us, the singer contested: “Although not ideal, the lockdown was a time to reflect, put things in perspective, and re-set priorities.”
Speaking of returning back to the stage after a long lockdown, the vocalist admitted it was a ‘little nerve-racking’. “After months in almost isolation, I worried about getting up in front of people again. That melted away however as soon as I started to sing – it felt like old times, but in a new situation.”
Something any performer lives for is, of course, their audience and fans. In this case, the performance was fairly intimate. There was a very small audience in attendance due to physical distancing measures. Most people were watching the screen outside the venue or watching the virtual broadcast. We asked if it felt much different. “Although it’s always nice to see a friendly face in the audience, once I start singing, I get fully absorbed in the music, so the experience of performing for a small audience didn’t feel that different from usual.”
And as the world is slowly getting a grip of the pandemic, artists and musicians can also start making plans for the future. “Despite the pandemic, I’m working on my next CD release,” revealed Diana. “We’ve already figured out how to get in the studio while respecting physical distancing measures. We also hope to work on a series of live videos that will be broadcast virtually. The pandemic has not stopped the creative flow and indeed, it has been nice to have more time to focus on sourcing material and practice.”
And despite the social distancing measures in place and all inconveniences associated with it, Ikon Londo Magazine attended and is happy to report the show was a success on both fronts with audiences enjoying live music once again by one of the brightest stars in the jazz world today.