The last time Colin LaVaute played live music was in March. Then COVID-19 hit.
“At the time, COVID was just kind of a whisper in your ear — something you heard about in the periphery — and we had no idea that that was gonna be the last time that we were gonna get to play a show, until today,” LaVaute said.
LaVaute, the guitarist for local band Decadent Nation and host of the show “Big Muddy Music Hour” on KBIA-FM, was among nearly 20 musicians and bands featured in a virtual music festival Saturday called Missouri Music Aid. Many professional musicians and music industry workers have experienced financial losses due to the ongoing pandemic, and Missouri Music Aid aims to help them get back on their feet.
Live and pre-recorded performances from across Missouri and the Midwest were scheduled to last from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and were livestreamed on Facebook.
Most musicians performed from their own homes, giving viewers a glimpse into their daily lives. Jefferson City duo Rose Ridge sang together in green and yellow armchairs and invited fellow musicians in to perform with them. Emma and Olivia Burney, of the Columbia band The Burney Sisters, performed from an orange room, the walls covered with the family’s multicolored guitars.
Missouri Music Aid and the Voluntary Action Center will put all money raised toward a grant program benefiting music industry professionals.
Anyone in the music industry can apply for the grant — including sound engineers, bartenders, bouncers and more, said LaVaute, who created Missouri Music Aid.
“This industry is on the ropes, folks, and if we don’t do something about it and if we don’t take action, I just, I can’t imagine what the landscape is going to look like,” LaVaute said during the event.
Nick Foster, executive director of the Voluntary Action Center, said he is proud to be a part of Missouri Music Aid, which follows the center’s mission to bridge gaps and improve the quality of life for people living in Boone County.
“Just like those restaurants and other local businesses, we want these (musicians) to be OK; we want them to be actually more than OK — we want them to thrive,” Foster said at the event. “And we want them to be able to maintain themselves into the future.”
The live event included a variety of performances and speeches from musicians, creatives and local community members.
Karl Bussen, owner of Bussen Productions, spoke about his experience as a photographer and videographer in the music industry and how much music means to him.
“(The pandemic has) impacted venues, and when the venue’s impacted, there’s nowhere to play music; that impacts people because people connect through music,” Bussen said. “And ... there are a lot of people that have music as an outlet.”
Nathan Hunt is the lead singer of Shaman’s Harvest, a well-known band from Jefferson City. Hunt told viewers about the band’s work during the pandemic and future plans.
“It’s kind of like starting over,” Hunt said. “Which will be, you know — we’re still gonna do it. That’s the thing about musicians and artists: It’s just a thing you do, regardless of what your current success is.”
LaVaute said Missouri Music Aid had raised around $4,000 before the event officially began at 10 a.m.
The event was promoted by The Blue Note, Rose Music Hall, the Roots N Blues Festival, KBIA-FM and Off Track Events alongside presenters Les Bourgeois Vineyards and the Voluntary Action Center.