Published Mar 19, 2020With the complete shutdown of live music in the midst of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, musicians are finding ways to keep bring people concerts, leading to a new initiative for Toronto musicians called URGNT.
Led by founding Lemon Bucket Orkestra member Mark Marczyk, URGNT is a new livestream concert series for Toronto's music scene to perform in some of the city's most iconic venues and DIY spaces.
The initiative began from a Facebook post made by Marczyk and spiralled into a full plan for bringing Toronto some much-needed entertainment. Alongside long-term colleagues and important community members, including Jaash Singh, Tamar Ilana, Alex Bordokas and Oksana Hawrylak, a GoFundMe page is underway with a goal of raising $40,000.
The plan is to start with 19 shows over the course of three weeks in empty venues to unify the arts community in the city. Sets will last between 30 and 40 minutes with a number of acts and venues already confirmed to be participating. You will be able to stream all the shows online at URGNT.ca.
Artists confirmed so far include Measha Brueggergosman, Quique Escamilla, Digging Roots, Moscow Apartment, Skratch Bastid, Han Han, Okan, Allison Au Quartet, the Gryphon Trio and Lemon Bucket Orkestra.
Participating venues include the Great Hall, Lula Lounge, the Dakota Tavern, Wheat Sheaf, Communist's Daughter, Drom Taberna, Today/Tonight Live Happenings Bar, 918 Bathurst, BSMT 254 and Koerner Hall, who will all be waiving fees to support the series.
The first concert is planned for Friday (March 20) at the Great Hall featuring a live set from Measha Brueggergosman and will also be streamed via iHeartRadio at 7 p.m. EDT.
Of the URGNT project, Marczyk offered the following statement:
We want to be strong advocates for diverse representation, which is part of the city we love, so we've already been reaching across genre, cultures, and identities, but we also hope to hear from a number of artists in response. We will focus on this emptiness/space as much as the musicians themselves and highlight some of the physically distinct properties of each venue that people might not otherwise have noticed as a tip of the hat to experienced hosts. We want to set production values fairly high; 3 cameras, professional crew, quality audio mix, and hopefully at least partially employing other industry professionals who are also affected by this sudden loss of work.
URGNT is closely monitoring its GoFundMe page while acknowledging the health risks involved. The initiative is developing guidelines for the series, including but not limited to having sanitation products available, ensuring only invited participants who don't exhibit symptoms and haven't travelled recently attend, participants maintaining distance even on stage, and adjusting practices in accordance with public health recommendations.
At the time of writing, the GoFundMe has currently raised just over $6,700. You can contribute to the campaign here and learn more about URGNT here.