“The music community, at its core, is about love,” says Paul Psathas of the Olean-based band Fair to Fiddlin’.
This statement rings true as the COVID-19 pandemic derails plans and activities for musicians all over the globe, including performers in the Greater Olean area.
“We are all in this pandemic together,” Terry Bellamy, who teaches a blues ensemble course at St. Bonaventure University, said.
Bands cannot meet, and venues have been shut down, so Psathas FaceTimes with his band mates to make sure everyone is staying safe. He said his band mates are like his family.
The bond extends beyond individual bands. Psathas said musicians compete when it comes to obtaining gigs, but when each band faces a hardship, the music community helps by making sure fellow musicians are taken care of. In some cases, bands have helped to put on benefit shows to help musicians in need, he said.
And the bond includes fans too.
Bellamy said he received an unsigned letter with a sum of money and a note that read “Can’t wait to hear you play again.”
Bellamy is using Zoom to give music lessons and maintain an income during the pandemic.
“It hasn’t hit me financially, but I am concerned about the other musicians out there,” he said.
Psathas is using FaceTime to teach saxophone, guitar, bass and music theory. The pandemic has affected his livelihood because he is not teaching as much as he used to.
Other area musicians, such as Roger Pettengill, rely on live performances for income.
Pettengill has tried to livestream for his audience, but his internet connection is not strong enough to support it. He does continue to watch other musicians through Facebook.
“Streaming is different,” he said. “It keeps people practicing, but it is very different playing to an audience that you cannot see."
With his ability to livestream limited, Pettengill is focusing on learning new songs to play live. He also has been trying to write more songs, but has been experiencing writer’s block.
When he is online, Pettengill finds encouragement in posts supporting musicians and the bars and other venues they perform in.
"I really miss the people," Pettengill said. "You never know who is going to be at a concert. It could be a long-lost friend or you may meet your next best friend at a show."
For more information on the Coronavirus in the Greater Olean area, visit TAPinto Greater Olean's Coronavirus Updates page, which is updated continuously.
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