Penticton band Yarrows play an outdoor show at the their debut album release party, in front of a small, socially distanced at a downtown Penticton cafe in August, 2020. It was the only time they’ve been able to play their new album in front of a live audience due to pandemic. (Jesse Day - Western News)

Penticton band Yarrows play an outdoor show at the their debut album release party, in front of a small, socially distanced at a downtown Penticton cafe in August, 2020. It was the only time they’ve been able to play their new album in front of a live audience due to pandemic. (Jesse Day - Western News)

Penticton musicians struggling in silence through pandemic

Public health orders has put live music on hold since since March 2020

The pandemic has taken away or greatly changed the livelihoods of many; and musicians may be among the hardest hit.

With no end in sight on restrictions on large gatherings, many musicians are longing for the feeling of playing in front of a live audience — something that has been basically impossible since March 2020.

Even prior to the pandemic, finding spaces to play shows in Penticton has always been a challenge, according to Stephanie Lines the lead singer of Penticton-based band Yarrows.

The diminishing number of venues in the city has long been a concern for artists in the local music scene, Lines said.

“Penticton has had an ongoing venue challenge to be honest and it’s getting frighteningly worse because the small businesses are finding it so hard and shutting down,” Lines said.

“For us as well, we tend to play music that is a bit more punk-rock or experimental and so having venues that will actually appreciate having us is very challenging… but it continues to get worse with the housing crisis and now with COVID.

“For me, it’s pretty scary to look at the future of shows.”

Despite a trying year, lines and her band Yarrows managed to release the bands’ debut album Stardust Motor Inn this summer.

The three-piece band’s debut albumnamed after a now defunct Penticton motel — aims to convey Penticton’s unique dichotomy of natural beauty and “languid slowness” through their blend of psychedelic country and existential dream rock.

In a normal year, the album’s release would have been met with a handful of local shows and likely a tour, but due to COVID-19 that wasn’t possible.

The band was able to perform a small, outdoor, socially distanced show for their album release party in August, but that was the extent of the album’s live promotion to date.

READ MORE: WATCH: Local band Yarrows rocks Main St. in downtown Penticton

Rob McLaren, one half of Kelowna duo The Cavernous, has been organizing and performing concerts in Penticton for over 15 years.

While he’s been frustrated with not being able to play shows, he understands the severity of the pandemic and the importance of the public health orders. “The last thing I personally want to do is minimize a crisis because I’m inconvenienced,” McLaren said.

McLaren also said COVID-19 has brought new opportunities for creativity.

“I think as musicians we have to kind of live like this (COVID) isn’t going way… I think we have to think creatively. Working in Penticton as a musician, you’re already running the gauntlet with how to be creative with like-minded people.

“I’ve played on-top of a parkade because that’s what somebody thought up, you have to continually evolve in this town because there’s no way you’re going to be able to present (your music) and COVID is just a new hurdle to jump over.”

Many live-streamed virtual performances have taken place during the pandemic, offering at least some way for musicians to play live for their fans. But for obvious reasons the experience just isn’t the same for both fans and artists. For some musicians, virtual performances aren’t even worth the time.

McLaren himself has struggled to adapt to live-streaming performances.

“The little imperfections that make a live performance beautiful live are the same things that kill it on a stream,” he said. “When somebody’s consuming music through a phone or a computer you’re kind of in a space where — for better or worse — you’re conditioned for perfection.”

While live-streamed performances may not be the permanent answer, they do at least offer some form of interaction with bands.

In Penticton, music fans will soon have another way of catching live performances from a distance. The local community radio station, Peach City Community Radio Society 92.9 CFUZ-FM, was recently awarded a grant that will help launch a new series showcasing live, on-air performances by local musicians.

Video and audio content from the performance will then be created from the performances and shared online.

READ MORE: Peach City Radio awarded grant, launches live music initiative

Lines is hopeful that her band Yarrows will be able to book a slot for a live, on-air performance with CFUZ in the near future.

Having just launched an album, Lines said the pandemic has made promoting her band’s first release very challenging. “Touring and playing shows is really when you’re able to connect with other musicians and music lovers… without that we’re a little lost,” she said.

Despite this, she said the local community has received the album very well and has been very supportive.

The pandemic has also been very tough financially for bands who rely on touring and merchandise sales for most of their revenue.

On top of being able to promote themselves and gain new followers at shows, many artists also generate the majority of their revenue by playing shows.

Streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music are hardly profitable for smaller artists. Spotify currently pays artists $0.004 CDN per stream, meaning an artist would need to log 1000 streams to earn $4. Apple Music pays $0.00783 CDN per stream, according to a report from soundcharts.com.

Lines said buying music is the best way to support local musicians during the pandemic. BandCamp is the ideal platform to purchase music through, as artists get paid directly through the website, Lines said.

Locally, she said buying records from local shops like the Grooveyard record store is a great way to get started supporting local musicians.

READ MORE: Record store day keeps vinyl spinning in the South Okanagan



jesse.day@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Music

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This now empty restaurant beside the Summerland Waterfront Resort will be turned back to its former glory of Shaughnessy’s Cove. Opening in May. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Summerland waterfront is getting a new restaurant

The now closed Local will be turned back into its former glory of the Shaughnessy’s Cove

Bob MacMillan raises a toast to Robbie Burns at the celebration for the 261st birthday of the Scottish Bard on Saturday, Jan. 18. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Explore Scottish culture with new Penticton television series

The Penticton Scottish Festival’s Exploring Scottish Culture in the Okanagan series debuts Jan. 18

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Gorgeous fiery sunset taken from a parking lot on Martin St. on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 at 4:45 p.m. (Brennan Phillips)
January is producing some gorgeous sunsets

Sunsets and warm weather for the start of 2021

Carol Loiselle filed a discrimination and harassment complaint with the B.C. Humans Right Tribunal in 2018 after working at Windward Software Systems, Inc. in Penticton for eight years. (Google maps photo)
Penticton woman wins part of her B.C. Human Rights Tribunal case

Carol Loiselle alleges she faced years of discrimination, harassment at Windward Software Systems

Brett Forsythe battles it out in a game of singles pickleball on ice at Okanagan Training Rink Thursday, Jan. 7 in support of the Vernon Food Bank. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Pickleball play hits the ice in Okanagan

Rivals battle it out in support of the food bank

Summerland businesses will get a break on their business license fees for 2021, although this will not apply to mobile business licenses. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland cuts business license fees for 2021

Decision to eliminate fees does not apply to mobile business licenses

Kelowna International Airport. —Image: Capital News file
Kelowna International Airport saw 64% decrease in passenger numbers in 2020

The airport said these numbers haven’t been seen since 1997

A rendering of the proposed development, called 2020, adjacent to other currently underway projects in the area. (Contributed)
Proposed 46-storey tower dubbed ‘2020’ would be Kelowna’s tallest building

The building was proposed two days after council approved a 42-storey tower on Leon Avenue

  RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media file)
‘Dangerous situation’ inside busy Kelowna store prompts police presence

27-year-old man apprehended after threatening to harm himself inside store

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials says it will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

City of Salmon Arm Coun. Chad Eliason goes public with the information he went to Mexico over Christmas. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm councillor travels to Mexico over Christmas holiday

Politician says he regrets decision and didn’t consider the ramifications

Letisha Reimer died Nov. 1, 2016 after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
No evidence that killer was in ‘psychotic state’ during Abbotsford school stabbing: Crown

Second day of closing arguments at ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing for Gabriel Klein

Most Read