Local musicians 'pay it forward' with virtual shows, fundraisers for non-profits
The two women of the rock-blues band Sayer McShane have found a way to raise money for non-profits in need, even as their own paying gigs were wiped out in the wake of COVID-19. Hear them discuss how they've stayed empowered to make an impact--and even found a way to continue working--even during tough times.
All right. So to start with, why don't you both tell me each of your names and a little bit about your band? All right. Okay. Well, I am Kristen Sayer. They call me Kristen, say, the guitar player. I played guitar and I sing in the band. And, Well, how about you? I'm Caroline McShane. I'm the drummer in the band, but I also play guitar when we do an acoustic set sometimes. So, um, and I also sing. So that's what I do in the van. And we both write With what? How did you get started doing this together? Well, I had a band in Detroit and I needed I was auditioning drummers and she auditions and she made the cut and then actually turned me down and then came back a year later. So long story long. The big kid had incomparable songwriting, So we've been doing it for 23 years of sense. But yeah, we both played in different bands in Detroit. Wow. And how did you end up here in North Carolina? Um, I have that better weather, better weather, better people, but better real estate. I've played and traveled all over and I We came down here for a couple of reconnaissance missions and really liked what we saw about a medium size market. Like she said, the weather, things like that. And based on all of the places that I have seen, we decided to come here and relocate. And here we are 17 years later, right? Couldn't be happier. But is that right? I'm a born and raised Raleigh. And whenever interesting and eclectic music and art comes to our area, I'm always very excited. So thank you for choosing here, but thank you for saying we're in eclectic galactic like that because I listen to some of your music as research. Um and Oh, my goodness. It was so good. Uh, well, you thinking Yes, I particularly I'm a big Fleetwood Mac fan, and, uh, I went to the song You saying, uh, you sounded you sounded just like her. Like that was like, I could play this to my mom, and she probably I think it's just a remix or something. So it's wonderful. And, um so tell me a little bit about how how is Cove in 19 impacted your work. It did big time. We were all the buyers were shut down. Restaurants, anything. We were completely booked well for the rest of the year and that all would be screeching. Halt. Yeah, so that's That's a lot of lost business. You know, people, I think we're thinking about retail establishments and restaurants and bars and salons and how they're impacted. And you really need to think about our artists as well. In our musicians you were using alone, right? Absolutely. It's still really bad, and we have a lot of friends that air musicians full time, such as ourselves, and it's really just been devastating. And on top of the economic components, it's just emotionally so distressing because your heart, when your heart is your life and you can't play for people, it's just really it's not fun being off, Not at all, right, because you want to reach the people we love playing for people in our fans miss us, and so that's been really emotionally difficult for us. Well, the house concerts worked out really well, though we are reaching a ton of people not only in the morning right, the rally it was area but all over the place. So, interestingly, we actually won't of expanding your audience because we know a lot of people around the world through just a lot of different ways. And they are so happy now that they can all the way from Ireland to Key West to Arizona all over the place. And they're so happy that they can tune in and watch us every week. So that has been a good thing that has come out of it. Yeah, yeah, I think that's true. Cove in 19. It's It's interesting. It's really limited our ability to see people in person, but it has broadened our horizons. Um, I've found myself talking to friends who live in in South Korea and Japan, who I don't normally communicate with as much. And now we're talking all the time cause those those boundaries were just gone. All right, we had We had one fan tune in just the other night. She stationed in Japan, I believe. And so when we do the thread, we tell people, Hey, give a shout out. Oh, we have a big following down at the beach and Wilmington, And so people like, Hey, I'm, you know, talking to you from Vermont. I'm talking from here and there, So it's really fun. Everybody chimes in to say where they're from. Yeah, isn't about how did you decide to start doing virtual shows and tell me a little bit more about? Well, it started with Oh, my gosh, what are we going to do? And then there's this thing called the Internet. So we thought, You know what? West just played for people. And just cause, like I said, it's therapeutic. It's za spiritually practice for lack of a better way of putting it. And so we wanted to just keep reaching people in to keep playing. And quite honestly, I don't want to get rusty a minute. I yeah, exploded so much that people just kept asking us and pleading, Please keep doing these concerts. So we just kept doing Why, I bet because people what we want now is art. You know, when you're stuck at home thing, you're gonna want more than many other things I have to start thinking about. You want to watch music you want toe, you know, watch shows you want to watch films you want to read. So art has become all the more valuable during this time to help give us a sense of normalcy. Um, and I'm sure your music does that. I'm the same. I'm constantly looking for people who are playing online so I could watch and people finger pain. Yes, honestly, it brings to the forefront that arts really are optional after all. I mean, I think the arts have really gotten people through all of this more than almost anything. So they're in a sense, very essential to your well being, right? I would say I agree. Yeah, I've had that same discussion. But several artists who have said the same thing there are it has become all the more important two people now. So it's really revealed. How essential? Artist. You're absolutely right. Um, so I hear that you've been raising money to for foursome animals. Tell me about that. Well, I'm a big believer in always having gratitude for our gifts of being able to play music, cause everybody wants to be rock and roll star, you know, us included. And so since everybody is having a hard time with all of this stuff being shut down, one of our second loves is animals who doesn't love animals. My sister works with a lot of shelters as well, so we just decided to give a little to pay it, as I call it, paying it forward because they don't have any income coming in. And so we had our after fans to help donate and then donate part of the proceeds to these different angel's that hearts and notes people thanking us so much they didn't even know we were doing it until they found out. And they were so grateful because they didn't have any money for cat food in all the different services that they were offering. So it just turned into a wonderful way of giving back to the community when we can't leave her home. Yeah, those worked out quite well. Absolutely. That's wonderful. What a what a wonderful story, you know, overcoming the hardship of losing so much of your, you know, established work that you had planned for the rest of the year. But finding a way to still work and and to bring joy to others and then to even, you know, pay it forward. Well, I'm a firm believer that you always have a sense of gratitude and to give back you always will get more. He there's always enough to go around, and if you keep that mind set, you'll just get more. And it's never let us down so far. And like I said, we've been both time musicians for 23 years and counting. And not a lot of people can say that because it's a very difficult business. But, um, we've always tried to give back. We have people message us that said, I'm a two time cancer survivor. I've got M s and your concerts literally are the only thing keeping me going spiritually. They keep my spirits lifted and get. We get these messages daily all the time from people thanking us for doing this, that they are that moved by the music. And that, in turn, moves me. So I breathe in the reciprocity of it that it goes around. Definitely, definitely. That's beautiful. I love that you're you're helping people on so many levels, whether you're just entertaining them or during during a difficult time, um or or, you know, using using it to help fund donations to help non profits. It's just it's good all the way around. The thing is, is when there's things that come in the world that you can't control, then what you have to decide to do is what can I do constructively and positively about things that I can control? Yeah, that's that's a really good message. And it's a message a lot of people need to hear right now. It's very empowering that even when things were tough, um, you can be empowered to still do something and it sounds like you two have have found your something to do, which is wonderful. I'm looking forward to watching. Ah, little bit of a sneak peak of one of your shows. Uh, this afternoon. Ah, at four o'clock. Um, I know you'll be streaming some of your original songs, which I think is really exciting, and and we will share that stream in this story and on w Oriel dot com and w aerials Facebook as well. So I'm really looking forward to that. Is there any, um, anything else that you want to make sure that you say to your fans or viewers before we wrap up? Just thank you. So like, for all the support and all the wonderful cards, letters, everything that people did. It was so, so important to us. And we hope that we can play music for many, many more years for everybody. Appreciate it. Yes, thank you very much to all of our friends and fans. As we always tell people at her shows live in person. Internet. We couldn't do this like we dio without you. And this is our way of saying thank you to give back to you for the wonderful energy and the love of the music that you have that we can keep doing this. So thank you so much. Yeah. Thank you. What a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing it.