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1
General Discussion / Meet and Greets (General Discussion)
« on: Today at 12:06:46 AM »
Since the middle of 2020, I've been to 7 virtual Meet and Greets (8 if you count the private virtual Christmas concert my friends and I did with Alex, since she did chat with us a bunch too).

Personally, I've found them to be much more satisfying than the typical Celtic Woman PBS M+G and even a lot of the solo show M+Gs.

PBS Meet and Greets

Advantages:
  • Photos with the girls in their dresses
  • Hugs!

Disadvantages:
  • Photos are not taken by professional photographers and don't always turn out well.
  • Expensive
  • Very rushed (less than 30 seconds per person/pair ... maybe a minute or so if you're lucky)
  • Seat location for the show is often good, but sometimes isn't. I've see row L tickets for PBS M+Gs. You don't find out your seat until usually a few weeks before the show.
  • Depending on where you live and where the shows get booked, you might have to travel a fair distance to take in a show that has a M+G and travel can be expensive.

Solo Meet and Greets

Some artists that have moved on from Celtic Woman continue to perform on their own or as part of a different tour.

Advantages:
  • Often much cheaper than PBS M+Gs
  • Often less rushed than PBS M+Gs
  • Hugs!
  • Photos!

Disadvantages:
  • The artists doing the solo shows don't tour as much as the CW group. Less shows means more likelyhood of having to travel a significant distance to see it and meet the artist(s).
  • The solo shows tend to draw a lot of superfans from all over the place. That's a lot of passionate people who want to spend a lot of time with the artist. The artist's time is limited and it can sometimes be a challenge to get as much time/attention as you want.
  • Sometimes, they aren't announced in advance (you might find out during the show if there will be a M+G afterwards or not).
  • Even though they're usually less rushed than PBS M+Gs, you still only get a few minutes to chat.

Stage Door / Tour Bus Encounters / Chance Encounters in the Wild:

Advantages:
  • Can be less rushed than the PBS M+Gs
  • More casual than the PBS M+Gs
  • You may be able to have a short conversation
  • You get to shower a performer with praise right after a show
  • You might hear bits of information they wouldn't share with out at a formal M+G
  • My friends and I have had some unique and memorable experiences at stage doors and they're often more personal than the formal M+Gs.
  • Hugs (sometimes)
  • Casual photos

Disadvanages:
  • There are no guarantees you'll be able to meet the performer(s). Sometimes you wait for a long time with no payoff.
  • The layout of some venues make it difficult or impossible to intercept performers before they leave the area.
  • Security may not let you hang around or get close enough to interact with the performers.
  • Weather concerns (could be cold, raining, etc).
  • Some performers may be tired or be in a rush to get on the bus.
  • You may have to compete with other fans for time/attention. Sometimes they won't have time to interact with everyone that's waiting for them.
  • It's unmoderated, so more assertive people tend to get more time.
  • Because it's informal and there's less certainty than an organized M+G, anxiety can be an issue for some. For some people, it can take a lot of courage to try these.
  • Light isn't always great for photos and might not always have time to take one.

Virtual M+Gs:

2020 saw the rise of virtual Meet and Greets. There are three main forms I've encountered so far:
1. Community (a group of fans some of which you may know and some you may not)
2. Private group (you choose your own group)
3. One-on-one (just you and the artist)

Community Virtual M+Gs:

Some advantages:
  • You get to see / meet other fans (if you're interested in that sort of thing). You can hear the stories of others, some of which may be inspiring or insightful.
  • If you're shy/introverted or not sure what to talk about, the pressure's not all on you. You can sit back and listen.
  • Other people might have great questions and you get to hear the answers.

Some disadvantages:
  • There can be a lot of people in the M+G at once.
  • The larger the group, the less direct interaction with the artist you're likely to get.
  • Some of these end up being free-for-alls, where there's not a lot of time management / moderation. Some people are more assertive than others and those people get more time.
  • Your conversation's not private (there are strangers in the meeting with you).
  • Some people forget to use the mute button ::)

Private Group Virtual M+Gs:

Advantages:
  • You get to choose the people with you in the M+G (your friends, family, etc).
  • No strangers.
  • Usually time to connect in a meaningful way with the artist.
  • Usually smaller groups than community M+Gs, so everyone gets more time with the artist.
  • You get to hang out with friends and an artist you care about.
  • Others can help carry the conversation if you're shy or not sure what to say.
  • You're sharing time with the artist, but you normally have MUCH more time than you do at a PBS M+G, stage door, or even a solo M+G. Your group really has time to casually interact with the artist and have real, meaningful conversations.
  • Opportunity to split the cost among participants.

Disadvantages:
  • Not a lot unless you'd rather have 1-on-1 or private time with the artist.
  • There's multiple people, so each person on average gets less direct interaction time with the artist.

Private 1-on-1 Virtual M+Gs:

Advantages:
  • You get 1-on-1 time with the artist from the comfort of your home (or wherever you happen to be at the time)!
  • More accessible for fans from around the world that can't easily make it to many live an-venue shows.
  • You get to connect in a meaningful way with the artist.
  • Private conversations.
  • More convenient / flexible timing than in-person M+Gs.
  • If there are a bunch of things you want to talk to the artist about, all the time is yours to do so.

Disadvantages:
  • Can be intimidating if you're shy or aren't comfortable carrying on an extended conversation. Many artists will be able to help lead the conversation though so it doesn't get too awkward.
  • You don't benefit from the energy or insights of other people.
  • No hugs.
  • You and the artist both need pretty good Internet.

My Thoughts:

I didn't think I would enjoy virtual M+Gs, especially the 1-on-1s. I'm shy and have struggled with anxiety issues in the past. Sometimes I find it difficult to carry on a conversation for an extended period unless I'm really passionate about the topic being discussed (otherwise, I tend to sit and listen instead of talking).

The community M+Gs I've been a bit less thrilled with. It's sometimes interesting to hear other people, but as somebody that's not very assertive, I tend to not get much time to say anything. Because the involvement is more passive, I don't get quite as much out of these as the private group M+Gs or the 1-on-1s.

Alex's 1x1 and private group M+Gs have been fantastic! I surprised myself in the 1-on-1 M+G that it was so easy for me to just have a regular conversation with her. It was nothing like a PBS M+G or stage encounter and I found the virtual M+G far more meaningful and fulfilling. The group M+Gs with friends are really fun and for me, they require less preparation.

Lisa's 1x1 M+G was fantastic too! I never thought I'd enjoy these so much or be so comfortable doing them.

So far, I've enjoyed the virtual M+Gs far more on average than the in-person M+Gs.

I think if we continue to share our M+G experiences and make artists aware of how much we value them, we could see them become more prevalent. Certainly now, while touring is still on hold. Even after live at-venue shows eventually return, I think there's a real potential demand for these.

Maybe there's an opportunity for PBS to offer both in-person and virtual M+Gs and sell extra pledge tickets that way. There's obviously a challenge in holding virtual M+Gs when on a tour (Internet quality may differ from place to place and time may be very limited for the artists).

While artists are in between tours, they no doubt want to have their downtime. But some solo artists go a while between live shows and virtual M+Gs could be a great way for them to stay connected with their fans. This benefits both the artists and the fans. I'm very glad Eabha is doing M+Gs once in a while through Patreon.

I know Glen and I have reached out to CW through various channels about virtual M+Gs among other things. That's probably a better route than contacting individual PBS stations, since PBS is pretty decentralized. Ideally we'd get virtual M+Gs directly from CW instead of through PBS, but their contracts may not allow for that.

Over the next few days, I'm going to poke a few former CW artists I think might be interested (I know a few that won't be). Hopefully we can plant a few seeds and continue to grow the great opportunities that are virtual Meet and Greets!

2
Celtic Woman / Re: How many shows / meet and greets have you been to?
« on: January 17, 2021, 10:30:26 PM »
Updated my list as of January 17th, 2021. I finally got to meet Lisa Kelly! Virtually, of course.

3
Mairead Carlin / Re: Mairead Carlin moving on from Celtic Woman
« on: January 15, 2021, 11:22:10 PM »
Mairead was one of the reasons I started going to shows. Her high notes in My Land and Westering Home were life-changing for me. She's the only one that was in every Celtic Woman show I've seen (all 23).

When I first met her, I was really excited, nervous, and grateful all at once. She's as perceptive and empathetic as she is knowledgeable and the first thing she asked me is if I was ok. I am now, thanks in large part to Mairead. Her voice has brought me joy. Her kind and thoughtful messages on social media brought me confidence and restored my self-esteem on several occasions. She was the life of the party on stage and I'll miss her adorable goofiness at the group concerts.

Celtic Woman has a long history of recruiting loveable and incredibly talented women. Whenever touring resumes, I'm sure they'll find someone with a gorgeous voice who I will immediately adore (or a former member I already adore, maybe Lynn). Nobody can ever replace Mairead. But the group will evolve and give us different reasons to love them. Just as Mairead has embraced change, so too must we.

Mairead has already been doing singing lessons and she has an album in the works. I'm grateful for the amazing years Mairead gave to Celtic Woman and all the ways that work inspired me. But I'm also glad she'll get to further explore her creativity and I'm excited for all the wonderful things she'll do on this next phase of her journey.

4
Alex Sharpe / Re: Bound: A James Barry Musical
« on: January 14, 2021, 10:17:51 PM »
The album doesn't have too much of Alex, but it's surprisingly good.

Alex is technically in 2 songs (although in the 2nd of her songs, she just sings for a bit near the end):
- Girl in a Man's World
- One of a Kind

If you're planning to listen, it will help to read the James Barry Wikipedia article first unless you already know the story:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Barry_(surgeon)

I think "Lucky" is my favourite track on the album overall. There are 2 separate characters in the song that have similar voices and the song might not make sense on its own. You kind of have to listen to the songs that precede it to understand who the two characters are and what's happening in the song.

5
Chloe Agnew / Re: Ivory Sessions: Volume One (Album)
« on: January 13, 2021, 05:45:59 PM »
It's apparently releasing on CD and vinyl as well.

https://www.facebook.com/theivorysessions/posts/248512490137668

6
Mairead Carlin / Mairead Carlin moving on from Celtic Woman
« on: January 13, 2021, 07:40:51 AM »
Mairead Carlin announced this morning that she was moving on from Celtic Woman.

I need some time to process this before I share my thoughts about what a massive difference she's made in my life.

I'm very grateful for the time she spent in Celtic Woman and that I got to meet her. I look forward to supporting her wherever her career leads her from here and I wish her the very best.

I don't expect Celtic Woman to announce a replacement anytime soon. If the shows in Ireland go ahead this year, we might find out a month or two before then who will be taking over for Mairead. Otherwise, we probably won't find out until December 2021 or January 2022.


7
General Discussion / Facebook making it difficult for artists
« on: January 08, 2021, 10:54:49 PM »
Facebook has been making things really difficult for artists recently. It's particularly unfortunate they're doing that during this challenging time for the industry.

I've heard a lot of complaints that people aren't actually seeing the posts of some artists because Facebook is flagging the content as unpaid advertisement.

Facebook also has software that flags covers for copyright infringement. I've even heard of artists having their own songs flagged and suppressed.

I'm sure there's lots more Facebook is doing to make things tough.

The bottom line is YouTube is becoming more and more preferable for videos (live and otherwise). If you like following your favourite artists on Facebook, I'd recommend also following them on YouTube (or Vimeo) whenever possible as that's where the video and music content is headed.

8
Chloe Agnew / Re: Ivory Sessions: Volume One (Album)
« on: January 07, 2021, 07:08:12 PM »
This video released today seems to confirm Chloë will be on the album!

Facebook: https://fb.watch/2TqqzgYIP-/

Some others you might be interested in who are on the album:
- Leah Barniville (she has a great voice quite a few connections to people in Celtic Woman)
- Brett Pruneau: Has worked with Alex and Lynn before
- Sarah Vaughan: A classical crossover soprano singer and currently a member of Ida
- Jake Carter: Pretty sure this is Nathan Carter's brother (Chloë toured with Nathan Carter a few times and also recorded an album and DVD with Nathan)

Full artist lineup:

Jake Carter
Lucia Evans
Johnny Brady
Amy Penston
Celine Byrne
Brett Pruneau
Chloe Agnew
Margot Daly
Kevin Fagan
Bucky Heard
Leah Barniville
Sarah Vaughan
Vicky Kenny
Mark Guildea
Simon Casey
Nigel Connell Music

9
Celebration's on Tour / Re: 2021 Tour Postponed
« on: January 07, 2021, 06:48:21 PM »
I think we are due some interest from the Venues on the tickets we have been sitting on now going to be 2 years. Then CW should just come out with a new show as Celebration 17 years don't sound right. Might as well just move on or let the girls do online shows or meet and greets to help support themselves.

Yeah, I'd be happy with a new show instead of them finishing the Celebration tour in 2022. I hope they'll let us help if they need it. They have given us so much. Time for us to return the favor and get them through this.

10
Mairead Nesbitt / JTV Jewlery line
« on: January 07, 2021, 03:54:13 PM »
Mairead Nesbitt has signed a multi-year deal with JTV.

This will be a new collection (separate from her previous collection, Soltice).

Source:
https://www.facebook.com/TRADIMM/posts/3778418822188785

Quote
Boston Music Management announces that Emmy and Grammy nominated Celtic violinist, Máiréad Nesbitt, has signed a multi–year deal with JTV®, one of the largest jewelry retailers in the United States.

Together with JTV’s experienced design team, Ms. Nesbitt will create a fresh, new collection of Celtic inspired jewelry to be sold exclusively through the JTV network. JTV leverages an omni–digital strategy designed to elevate the customer experience through holistic, digitally–driven touch points, including live TV programming, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to 84 million U.S. households, an industry leading mobile optimized e–commerce platform, and a robust and engaging social media presence.

Boston Music Management’s Neil Grover states, “With the power of JTV behind her, Máiréad is well positioned to connect with a vast new audience. The exposure to JTV’s robust viewership will not only help to expand her robust fan base, but will also catapult plans we have for her musical activities in 2021 and beyond.” 

Commencing in March 2021, Ms. Nesbitt will co–host a 2–hour jewelry show that will be regularly aired several times per year on the JTV network. The show is scheduled to launch in advance of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday and is expected to gain a wide viewing audience.

11
Chloe Agnew / Re: Wild Atlantic Fleadh
« on: January 07, 2021, 03:00:31 PM »
Even the virtual Fleadh show has been postponed to 2022 (exact dates to be announced). It will now be a combined virtual and in-person show in 2022.

Apparently those that got tickets will be refunded.


12
Celebration's on Tour / 2021 Tour Postponed
« on: January 07, 2021, 01:33:21 PM »
It looks like Celtic Woman is going to be postponing the Celebration tour to 2022 due to the ongoing pandemic situation:

https://www.celticwoman.com/tour-rescheduling-announcement-2020/

Unsure if the Christmas tour might also get impacted in 2021. Hopefully things will be better by then.

13
Chloe Agnew / Ivory Sessions: Volume One (Album)
« on: January 04, 2021, 05:49:52 PM »
There's an Ivory Sessions ("Volume One") album releasing on Apple Music, Spotify, etc. on February 1, 2021.

It apparently features 16 artists and 16 tracks.

I don't have the list of tracks or artists yet, but there's potential for Chloë, Megan Pottinger, and Leah Barniville to be on the album, so you may want to check it out once it releases.

14
Other Musicians / Re: Quarantune Concerts
« on: January 03, 2021, 12:59:30 PM »
For 2020, I ended up watching 184 online shows since mid-March.

Month        # Shows
Mar7
Apr31
May27
Jun13
July15
Aug26
Sept11
Oct9
Nov9
Dec36

The shows varied widely in production, video, and audio quality. Many, particularly early in the year, were recorded with a webcam and without professional microphones. A few, like Lindsey Stirling's concert, were DVD quality or better.

The overall quality improved significantly around late November as performers geared up for Christmas.

Highlights:

Byrne & Kelly's "Songs and Stories Tour" show was the first virtual concert I watched since the emergence of the pandemic situation. I enjoyed it and it set the stage for a pretty epic year of virtual entertainment.

The Gothard Sisters were one of the most pleasant surprises of the year for me. I'd heard of them before, but never really listened to their stuff before March, 2020. Their celtic/folk arrangements are brilliant and their songs are fun to listen to. Their shows have been really entertaining. They all play a variety of instruments, sing and tap-dance. Aside from a few live streams that experienced some rough Internet issues, their shows had excellent video, audio, and stability. I loved their content so much I ended up subscribing on Patreon! Once travelling and touring return, I will definitely be travelling to see them live.

My friend Mary Bee did lots of online shows, particularly earlier in the year. Most of the stuff she performed wasn't prepared in advance. She just tried different songs on the spot. She's adorable and her voice is beautiful.

Chloe Lowery: Live in Nashville was the first live concert that actually felt sort of like being at a show. The show was performed at a venue and had a band, professional lighting, and professional camera work. They had video screens set up in the seats. Some people that paid a bit more got to set up their webcams so they "appeared" in their seats. The performers could therefore see and hear the audience during the show. The audience was at times distracting as some could be seen / heard chatting with their friends during the show.

Lindsey Stirling's "The Artemis Reprise" in August was different. She recorded a bunch of her songs with motion capture equipment so she had an avatar performing in a computer generated environment.

A lot of the shows done by the Celtic Thunder performers were fun. Damian's struggled with sound and video quality issues. I really enjoyed the Byrne & Kelly and Colm & Laura shows. Keith Harkin is a really talented singer/songwriter and guitar player. He did multiple shows almost every week and while the video was pretty fuzzy, the music was great!

I was pretty excited for Deirdre and Matt's show at Killua Castle. The setting and lighting looked visually impressive. The initial broadcast was plagued with brutal buffering issues though. Fortunately, they shared the show afterwards so we could actually enjoy it without the audio/video freezing every couple of seconds.

Amy's Wednesday Night Live Streamed shows were fun. The audio was pretty rough at first since she was basically playing background music over her laptop or phone and singing along to it. Later on in the year, she got a better mic and software. Her variety-style skits were pretty funny.

Rebecca Winckworth and Citizens of Song put together some great shows, featuring lots of artists from all over the world. I follow classical crossover group "Ida" (aka Ida Girls) now after discovering them during the Citizens of Song concerts.

Chloë's concert with John Driskell Hopkins at Red Clay Music Foundry was great! The audio quality was outstanding and the video was the type of quality you'd expect from a TV special. It was by far the highest overall quality online show I've seen of Chloë's and at the time, the best overall online show quality I had ever seen. I loved the set list and Chloë, as always, sang her heart out for us.

I also really enjoyed both of Chloë's shows from Red Clay Music Foundry, especially the first one. The video wasn't as crisp, but the sound was great. There were some very funny moments, like when Chloë decided on the spot to add a couple of shows to the set list, forcing members of her band to go run off stage to retrieve sheet music. Her passionate "thank you" speech to her fans was one of the most beautiful things I've ever experienced during a live performance.

One of the most treasured shows of the year had to have been the private Christmas concert with Alex Shape and my friends. Alex put a lot of effort into it and made it a very special experience for us.

Lindsey Stirling's Christmas show had the highest production value by far. It was stunning in every way and had some very intense emotional moments. The sets were amazing and the choreography and cinematography were top-notch. The documentary segment leading up to her hair-hanging performance was one of the most powerful and inspiring things I've ever seen! If she ends up releasing this show on blu-ray or DVD, I will be getting it.

The last online show of 2020 was The Fitzgeralds on New Year's Eve. They're very talented and creative and they're the only group aside from Celtic Woman I got to see live, in person, in a theatre this year.

2020 posed a lot of challenges, but it was an epic year of online entertainment! There's nothing like being in person for a performance and to feel the energy of the performers and the crowd. But the virtual shows had their advantages: I got to experience many performers I otherwise wouldn't have, I got to discover new performers and I got to see more shows overall than ever, all from the comfort of home without the stress and cost of travel.

I hope in-theatre performances return at some point in 2021, but I hope artists will keep some virtual concerts going too!

What Is A "Show?"

My definition of a virtual "show" was a bit ambiguous/arbitrary, but the things I included tended to have the following criteria:
- Around 20 minutes or more (ie. Celtic Woman's "O Holy Night" video didn't count as a show)
- Had a decent amount of "performing" involved (ie. something that was basically an interview show didn't count)
- Was new or re-released since mid-March 2020 (if I went back and watched an old video, that didn't count, but if someone like The Gothard Sisters or Anuna took an old live show they recorded a few years ago and re-released it for entertainment after the start of the pandemic, that counted)
- Pre-recorded performances counted
- I counted shows with paid tickets, optional payment shows (tips, donations, etc), and free shows
- For most of the year, I wasn't counting Mairead Mondays as shows but reviewing my definition. After going back and forth, I decided there was enough "performance" content to count it. Amy Rivard's "Wednesday Night Live, Streamed" felt like shows and the format was similar enough to Mairead Mondays that I decided if it made sense to count either, it made sense to count both.
- I did not count the (lengthy) interviews with Jim Masters. They were a significant investment of time and well done, but I decided to only count stuff that had an emphasis on live performances, rather than almost all interview content.

I suppose the main takeaway is that I enjoyed a LOT of virtual performances in 2020!


15
Chloe Agnew / Re: Wild Atlantic Fleadh
« on: December 30, 2020, 09:24:19 PM »
I got my ticket.

5 nights of entertainment for 1 ticket and practically no chance of a live show conflict.

I despise StageIt for their frequent quality issues, but I suppose after having seen so many StageIt shows this year, I've just learned to tolerate it. It's a chance to see a LOT of performers I follow (at least 9 separate acts I know of so far).

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