In Portsmouth: The show must (virtually) go on

Common Fence Music benefit concert Saturday night will be live-streamed

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PORTSMOUTH — There won’t be many people inside the CFP Center for Arts, Wellness, and Community on Saturday, March 28, when several bands take the stage for Common Fence Music’s (CFM) annual fund-raising show. Even so, the Love + Harmony Benefit Concert could draw its biggest audience yet.

Due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, CFM has decided to live-stream the show and accept donations online rather than cash for tickets at the door.

“Once we determined we couldn’t hold the concert physically as part of our fund-raiser, the musicians were very disappointed and still wanted to perform. So, we decided to do a live stream,” said David Breton, CFM’s treasurer and a sound engineer who set the streaming system up in the hall recently.

“We’ve put a camera up above the stage and it has pan and tilt and zoom. We run the output of the camera through an encoder and that puts it on the business Cox line that comes in,” he said, adding that the nonprofit also invested in other equipment, such as two hanging choir microphones, wireless mics, an encoder and a one-button recorder.

“We’re hoping in the future to sometimes do live streams as part of a normal thing,” he said.

Last week he and Conley Zani, president of the Common Fence Point Community Association (CFPIA), were testing out the equipment by having Ms. Zani live-stream a quick Zumba lesson at www.cfpzumba.com.

“We’re going to be live-steaming, but we also put together a landing site where people can build their own class,” said Ms. Zani. A series of videos have been created, and participants can pick their warmup, songs, cool-down, stretch and more, she said.

CFPIA would also like to offer the streaming service to the wider community.

“Common Fence Music has a concert coming up, and that’s really why we purchased the equipment and everything in this timeframe,” Ms. Zani said. “But anybody who uses this hall regularly, if they wanted to live-stream something, we want to be a resource for them. I think we’re ushering in a new era here. We want to get this right. If the town’s emergency management team or the Town Council wanted to live-stream from here, we want to help make that happen.”

Eight artists performing

The show on Saturday will feature a wide array of artists, including Avi Jacob (who will premier the title track from his forthcoming EP, “Hawk in the Nest”), Bank of Ireland, Dan Lilley and Amy Bedard, Emerald Rae, Haunt the House, Hawthorn, Hollow Turtle and Slackwater String Band. Local multi-instrumentalist and host of WRIU’s Traditions program, Tom Duksta, will emcee the evening. 

“It’s going to be 15-minute sets, so it’s going to be a long night,” said Mr. Breton. “We’re going to have the minimal number of people in the room. There are going to be the musicians, a sound guy, the video guy, and the emcee. The artists are all excited to be doing this. We’re going to keep them separated in the green room.”

Although CFM is not charging for the concert — “It’s more of a gift to the community,” Mr. Breton said — it still hopes hopes to raise money through donations to the organization’s spring matching campaign via the CFM website, and will also be holding an online silent auction.

“In the background, we’re going to run an online auction which may go for several days, We’re going to have people in the back office, watching how donations go,” Mr Breton said.

The live stream will be on YouTube, and the link will be available on the CFM website (www.commonfencemusic.org) and Facebook page on March 28. If you can’t view the concert at the time of streaming, the event recording will be posted to the CFM YouTube channel immediately following the live stream.

Won’t break even

Since the artists performing Saturday are still being paid, CFM probably won’t break even on the event. On top of that, the organization had to cancel or postpone shows scheduled for April 18 and May 2.

“But we think we’ll make it up. We are doing fund-raising, and we got a Jedd Sullivan grant,” he said.

Mr. Sullivan, a tireless Common Fence Music supporter and volunteer, died in January 2019 at the age of 63.

“When he passed away, his family established a trust fund. They will match our spring campaign up to $5,000,” he said.

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