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Northland Steps Up: Local musicians still find a way to put on a show

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The Northwood's Band performs live on Facebook from a band member's garage.

BRIMSON, MN -- In this era of social distancing, most of us have spent time thinking about what we would normally be doing.

For many, that includes watching live music, whether that be at our favorite bar, the now-canceled Homegrown Music Festival, or upcoming summer concerts that might not happen.

This might be most frustrating for the artists themselves.

Enter a growing phenomenon of our new normal.

Free concerts broadcast live on Facebook from living rooms and garages.

Friday night in Brimson, Minnesota was a first for The Northwood's Band.

"We end the song and there's no applause. No conversation. It just felt really weird," said The Northwood's Band lead singer Hunter McCullough.

McCullough and hit band-mates put on a rocking show in a garage with no physical live audience, but a huge, virtual live audience.

"We reached 6,000 people on the live stream," said McCullough.

Like many, The Northwood's Band, who plays venues year-round across the region, has had to cancel a lot of them.

But they want to keep fans close and give them a reason to smile.

"We wanted to reach out to them and be able to play for all these people who now have to stay indoors for an extended period of time," said McCullough.

Down in Wrenshall, Minnesota, Tom Cawcutt has been a popular performer in the area for a long time.

He was not about to let a pandemic slow him down, so he has used his phone, piano and wife to help put on a live show on Facebook.

"My wife is my camera person and she's doing a good job," said Cawcutt.

They are putting on a live show every Friday night in their living room.

"We did it because it was a stress relief to start playing again. And to put it out there on Facebook, why not?" asked Cawcutt.

Turns out it was not just a stress reliever for him.

The 2,000 people who watched on Facebook agreed.

"The viewing has been phenomenal," said Cawcutt.

Over on the South Shore, Blue Canvas Orchestra, the house band for Big Top Chautauqua, also moved things online.

"We got a lot of compliments that people were comforted by seeing people they knew," said Blue Canvas Orchestra Co-Director Ed Willett.

He and the band are getting ready to play another season in Big Top's more than three-decade run.

This season just kicked off with Facebook Live performances from inside band member's homes.

"What started off as a big barrier is now a way for the Big Top audience to get to know the band more intimately," said Willett.

Intimate -- the state of our Northland music scene during this time of self-isolation.

Music is a natural comforter," said Tom Cawcutt. "Can't imagine life without music."

Below are links to the three Facebook pages where you can find future live performances from the artists listed above.
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Dan Wolfe

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