Thursday, 02 April 2020 23:19

Local musicians switch to online venues, raise money for out-of-work bar staff

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Frankie Moree and Scott Infinger perform as Dark Horse Duo during a March 27 live-streaming concert at Casino Guitars in Southern Pines. Frankie Moree and Scott Infinger perform as Dark Horse Duo during a March 27 live-streaming concert at Casino Guitars in Southern Pines. Screenshot - Casino Guitars

ROCKINGHAM — With their venues being closed and audiences capped by government mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic, musicians are having to be creative.

Many have taken to what’s being called “quaranstreaming” — putting on live concerts from their homes via social media, including several who often perform in Richmond County, such as Mark McKinney and Company and Acoustic on the Rocks.

Whether on a porch or in a living room, the musicians have been able to collect tips from mobile apps.

Casino Guitars in Southern Pines started a series two weeks ago, streaming live performances of local artists.

The first was Hamlet guitarist and singer/songwriter Jonathan Robinson, who also works at the shop, followed by Frankie Moree and Scott Infinger performing as Dark Horse Duo, a hyphenated lineup of the band.

However, with the stay-at-home order, Casino owner Baxter Clement says he doesn’t know if the series will be able to continue.

On Tuesday, Jonathan Robinson and Clement released a video on YouTube discussing the situation.

“Things have changed dramatically across the landscape since this whole thing has happened,” Clement said. “I know it's affected every industry and all of our friends … It has been a huge shift for our working musicians — there are no more working musicians.”

Jonathan Robinson said he had been booked every weekend until June, but after Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all bars and restaurants to close on March 17 — which was St. Patrick’s Day, usually one of the most profitable days of the year for bars — his schedule was cleared.

“It’s really weird because my little phone or my watch would go off and tell me I’m supposed to be somewhere in 10 minutes — but I’m not,” Jonathan Robinson said.

Posting videos online during the shutdown has “changed the vibe of some things,” Jonathan Robinson added.

“Before this, I felt like I would … put out videos because I sort of had to,” he said. “But now I feel like people are actually watching them … and they’re appreciating them.”

Jonathan Robinson said making videos was noticeably different than performing in front of a live audience.

“At a bar, you’re playing, you’re background music. Three people are listening, maybe, out of 100, if you’re lucky ... Unless you really have built an audience,” he explained. “It’s weird. People who are tuning in, they’re actually tuning in.”

Clement said he was thrilled to see the artists making more in an online gig than they would playing live in a bar.

Jeremy Robinson (no relation), who plays often in Richmond and Moore counties, decided to use his Facebook live show to raise money for the employees of Dugan’s Pub, Belltree Tavern and Pinecrest Inn.

“I have a ton of friends that own bars (and) restaurants and a ton of friends that work in them,” he said. “ (I) just really feel like they could use some help right now.”

He, along with Mollie Edwards, Matt Kuhn, Bobby Hancock and Jacob Tunstall, performed an acoustic set Friday as the Moonlight Shiners on Kuhn’s back porch in Seven Lakes.

“It went really good, being we were totally unrehearsed,” Jeremy Robinson said.

That show brought in more than $1,500, all of which was donated.

He plans to stream two more shows to raise money for more bar and restaurant workers and local hairdressers, the latter of whom were also put out of work by executive order since their jobs don’t conform to the social distancing measure of keeping six feet apart.

This Friday’s show, which is scheduled to begin around 7:30 p.m., will raise money for three more venues: Broad Street Bar and Grill; the Jefferson Inn; and Rockingham’s Hudson Brothers Deli.

He said he picked Hudson Brothers as a beneficiary “because I love the staff, the people, and most of all Robin (Roberts)! I’ve been playing there for years.”

“I am very, very appreciative of what they’re trying to do for all the bars and restaurants that are closed,” Roberts said. “I miss the music and all my people, and it means the world to me that the musicians want to help us out.”

There are currently 10 employees of Hudson Brothers out of a job.

Roberts, who has been hosting music at Hudson Brothers for 20 years, added that she knows the musicians are suffering, too.

Jeremy Robinson’s third show, which will be solo, will benefit several other bars, including Double Vision in Rockingham, which is owned by his cousin Richard Robinson.

“We’re all in this together and what Jeremy and the guys are doing proves that,” Roberts said. “We are a musical family.”

She is also anxiously awaiting for things to get back to normal.

“When this is over, we’re going to throw the biggest musical party that we’ve seen in a while.”


The Moonlight Shiners perform live on Facebook March 27, raising more than $1,500 for bar and restaurant workers in Moore County. Singer Jeremy Robinson, center, is planning two more shows, with two venues in Richmond County as beneficiaries.

Last modified on Friday, 03 April 2020 00:01