FORT LORAMIE — Concert-goers and musicians are craving to get back into concert arenas, as shows in front of audiences are on hold right now due to the coronavirus. But whether it be famous artists or hometown favorites, musicians are connecting with music lovers through live shows online during quarantine.
Shelby County’s own Mark Cantwil is one of those hometown musicians who has been playing weekly shows virtually for the past seven weekends via Facebook Live. His “Quarantine Blues Sessions” has been a hit with fans since week one.
“It’s a lot of fun. But (at first) I didn’t know if I was going to do any more than just the one, but I started getting such a cool response from people, saying, “Hey, are you going to be on(line) Saturday? This is awesome.’ And so that’s how I just made it an every Saturday thing,” Cantwil said.
The Fort Loramie native has performed throughout the county and internationally, at numerous festivals and the Country Concert at Hickory Hill Lakes, played solo and with his band the Punch-Drunk Heroes as well as with multiple famous musicians, to (for now) playing acoustic music alone in his kitchen for fans online.
The first Saturday night Blues Session, Cantwil played three hours of all original Americana-style music. Americana music is contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, according to the Americana Music Association.
“In lieu of this quarantine/coronavirus, there are no shows tonight, so I just thought I would do a little Facebook Live. A lot of my musician friends around the country have been doing it. I’ve been watching quite a few, so I thought I would jump on board as well,” Cantwil said as he opened his first Facebook Live show.
Every subsequent show has been comprised of sets of two original songs followed by two covers, back and forth, for about three hours on mostly Saturday nights. The singer/songwriter also takes requests throughout the night.
“At first was a little weird because (I was) sitting down in a chair and looking at (my) cellphone. Usually when I’m playing live, I’m standing up — and I’m a pretty physical performer — so that was kind of different. But it turned out to be a lot of fun. I guess the biggest surprise is how intimate it was even though you are looking at your phone. I didn’t know what to expect,” said Cantwil.
He is used to playing five to nine shows a month, “so, like most musicians out there,” the singer said, “this, not playing, has been driving me nuts.”
The amount of online viewers varies week to week, but Cantwil has reached over 200 people on at least one on shows. Viewers will post encouraging words, make song requests and interact with Cantwil or other viewers that pop up on the live feed.
“I was shocked at how intimate it seemed to be, even though I would be looking at a phone and I couldn’t really see anybody. Usually when playing out at a bar or a club for three hours, usually there are people there, but they are socializing, there are TVs on, (they are) talking to the bartender. They are listening, but it’s not like when you go to an hour-long concert when your undivided attention is on that artist,” Cantwil said. “But with these live feeds, that’s kind of all you have. A lot of times, people are probably laying in bed or sitting on their couch listening to their iPad or cellphone and you got their undivided attention.”
Since quarantine began, aside from his Saturday shows, Cantwil has also performed other short tribute sets online or for virtual fundraisers, such as “Jammin’ for the Front Lines” for hospital employees, and Society of Neutral Angels for the Dayton Food Bank.
Cantwil says his small town roots are the “driving force” behind his Americana music that captures the “the spirit, the struggle and the joys of everyday life.” He plays the guitar, bass and drums. Currently he is working on a fourth album to be released this fall.
His music is also available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, CD Baby, XBOX Music and many other streaming sites.
When not playing music, during the day, Cantwil is an engineer at Crown Equipment in New Bremen. He is also a father to son Caden, and three step-daughters, with wife Janelle.
All things Mark Cantwil, including upcoming shows, or to purchase any of his first three albums, “Last Chance Johnny,” “Diggin’ On You” and “Pride In This Name,” can be found on his website at http://www.markcantwil.com/
As it is unknown when concerts or live shows will be booked again, Cantwil said he continue his Facebook Live shows for the foreseeable future. To tune into one of his Saturday night Quarantine Blues Sessions, go to his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cantwil .
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.