When the past weekend’s heavy snowfall dumped on North Carolina, everything shut down in a state of emergency, including concerts.
Greensboro’s On Pop of the World Studios canceled two shows over the weekend, one featuring Corporate Fandango, the other the second iteration of Songwriters Explosion. Doodad Farm saw nine inches of snowfall, forcing the remote ranch to nix an appearance by guitarist Jack Williams. In Winston-Salem, the relentless blizzard compelled shutdowns from Wahyas and Night Battles at Test Pattern to Vel Indica at Tee Time Sports and Spirits.
However, one artist was determined not to let cabin fever get her down.
Crystal Bright, based outside of Saxapahaw but formerly from Greensboro, canceled a show on Sunday in Wilmington due to the inclement weather.
“We got about five inches of snow with ice underneath,” Bright said in an interview. “I live on the back roads, so it was impassable for a couple days. My road is still not cleared.”
Bright’s bandmates were en route on Interstate 40 when it began icing, and they were forced to call off the show.
“The weather wasn’t as bad in Wilmington, but I knew we wouldn’t be able to get me back to my house the next day,” Bright said. “I was really bummed about it, because I was looking forward to seeing all of my friends, and we had already rescheduled that show because of the last hurricane that came through.”
Though Bright felt blue, she figured out a workaround with guitarist Jeremy Haire — stream a show while isolated in their home.
The circumstances might’ve been unique, but the spur-of-the-moment Saturday show wasn’t the first time Bright had used a streaming platform to broadcast a set.
“I had used a streaming site a few years ago once from my home, but they have come a long way since then,” Bright said. “I used Ustream last year to stream a benefit concert for our friend we were doing it for because he couldn’t be there because of his back surgery, hence the benefit.”
This time, Bright opted for Concert Window.
“Concert Window is nice because people can chat with you during the stream and you can interact,” Bright explained. “It’s more intimate and relaxed, and there’s an option for setting up rewards for tips.”
The situation forced Bright to pick songs carefully.
“I had to pick songs that just Jeremy and I could do with accordion, keyboard and guitar,” Bright said.
Her music can tend towards lush arrangements, so the stripped-down sonic aesthetic was something of a challenge, but not one where the songs suffered.
“Jeremy and I have been performing as a duo occasionally the past year, so we’ve had some practice getting used to the sound and trying to fill it out the best we can with auxiliary foot percussion,” Bright said. “It definitely takes some getting used to, because I want the songs to have the full effect, but it’s also good to be adaptable to different settings. In the process, I can hear the songs differently and appreciate different aspects of them.”
Haire even took the opportunity to push his creative boundaries.
“We recently set up a drum kit, so Jeremy played around on that, too,” Bright said. “He played a couple songs on drums instead of guitar for the first time, and that was fun. It’s a great time to experiment and just have fun with it, since it’s so informal and relaxed.”
Bright said about 30 people watched the spontaneous stream continuously, with about half of those loyal fans employing the service’s chat function to send requests or encouraging words.
“We had an hour set aside for it, and I had about 40 minutes’ worth of material written down,” Bright said. “I left time for me to show some of my fun instruments I keep at home that no one ever sees.
“My cats were also involved,” Bright added with a laugh.
Instead of letting the cancellation deflate her and leave her helpless and stranded, the experience led Bright to new ideas and an opportunity to make some dough off tips contributed by viewers. All told, after the 30-percent fee imposed by Concert Window, Bright brought in $275 for a night’s fun, including revenue from merch sales.
The experience was so positive that Bright now considers streaming a consistent, viable outlet for her music.
“I’m definitely going to do it at least once a month and have lots of ideas of different things to try,” Bright said. “There are so many supporters around the world who haven’t been able to see a live show yet, and this can give them the opportunity to get a little closer.”