Online Jazz Relief concert set for Friday


What: Jazz Relief featuring Karel Roessingh, Edie DaPonte, Maureen Washington, Maria Manna, Joey Smith and Susannah Adams
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Admission: By donation

Two months ago, the number of local performers familiar with webstreaming technology was not large. But as online concerts become the norm, musicians such as pianist Karel Roessingh have been on a steep learning curve, improving their computer skills in order to continue performing for fans.

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The former Highlands mayor — traditionally one of the busiest live performers in Greater Victoria — lost every one of his bookings when COVID-19 arrived, so he’s investing his hopes in a live-music platform that allows musicians to play together in real time from different locations.

An hour-long concert, Jazz Relief, will be broadcast live on Friday through the Hermann’s Jazz Club website, with partial proceeds going to the Rapid Relief Fund, a joint effort of the Victoria Foundation, the Jawl Foundation and the Times Colonist.

“We are doing a lot of testing, and there’s always a possibility of a huge trainwreck,” Roessingh said with a laugh. “But we are doing all the testing we possibly can.”

The technology made rehearsals with fellow performers Edie DaPonte, Maureen Washington, Maria Manna, Joey Smith and Susannah Adams doable in the age of physical distancing. But it wasn’t always easy, with a six-camera shot not unlike the title card of The Brady Bunch series at times.

“Having all six of us on screen at one time has been dicey,” Roessingh said. “You have to have it set just right, or the audio and video will go crazy.”

Most of the performers involved with Jazz Relief have staged livestream concerts in recent weeks through the Hermann’s Jazz Club website, which has been offering online concerts since March 30.

Jazz Relief is different in one key regard: The musicians will be performing from their homes, not the stage at the View Street venue.

Thanks to technology, DaPonte (who will be in Sidney), Washington (Broadmead), Manna (Bear Mountain), Adams (James Bay), Roessingh (Highlands) and Smith (Gordon Head) will appear together, despite being separated by dozens of kilometres.

“This is the only one Hermann’s has done remotely,” Roessingh said. “All the rest have been streamed from Hermann’s. They have never done this before.”

The concert Friday will feature a link to donate, which Roessingh hopes will encourage viewers to contribute. The payments received by the club will be distributed to both the Rapid Relief Fund and the musicians who performed. In the COVID-19 era, this is how musicians make their money, Roessingh said.

“Thousands of people have seen these concerts at Hermann’s online, and yet the musicians are making far less than they would have had they played at Hermann’s. Even a tiny donation would make a vast difference.”

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