Reliving the Future Musical musings from aging hipsters

Bill Janovitz saved my life last night.

This post originally appeared on my personal blog, but I’m re-posting here because it’s about music… and music posts are pretty scarce these days..

Back in my Catholic grade school days, the nuns talked about the Corporal Works of Mercy, one of which is “feed the hungry.”

William Shakespeare said “if music be the food of love, play on!”

Bill Janovitz, the lead singer of my favorite band, Buffalo Tom, hosted a “Virtual Happy Hour” this past Saturday afternoon, via the band’s Facebook page. After mixing himself a martini in his kitchen, he headed down to the basement to play songs from throughout his career, usually on acoustic guitar, occasionally on piano. It was like manna from heaven. A feast for the music-starved masses.

I’ve seen Buffalo Tom several times — in Cincinnati, in New York, L.A., Chicago — and have loved every second of every show. But last night’s solo gig was not just something I wanted to see, it something I desperately needed after a long, long week of work and worry and weirdness. And it wasn’t just me that needed this catharsis — a thousand folks tuned in from around the world. Australia, Italy, England, Abu Dhabi…

I’m not big on the FaceGrams and the InstaTweet and the other social mediums, but yesterday, it sure came in handy as a way to bond with like-minded fans. It provided a true sense of close connection in a social distancing world.

Bill was in his basement, sipping a martini and playing his songs. 800 miles away, I was in my basement, singing along at the top of my lungs (something I’d never do at a regular Buffalo Tom concert – I respect the other fans too much to torture them with my off-key warbling) and crying in my beer at the sad songs. It was more than music, it was magic.

Fancy suit. Sensible footwear.

In addition to being a fabulous songwriter and performer, Bill is also a caring dude. He’s heavily involved in the Hot Stove Cool Music fundraisers that provide scholarships for kids and families in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Boston. Yesterday’s gig raised more than $4,000 (via Venmo and PayPal “tip jars”) for local venues, promoters and musicians who are out of work during the coronavirus lockdown.

Bill’s already booked another “Virtual Happy Hour” gig for this Saturday, March 28th, at 4:30 EDT. Grab a beverage and belly up to the basement bar for some musical salvation. This go-round, the donations go to Bill, because he was originally scheduled for a gig that evening. So tip generously.

Until then, why not use a bit of your “house arrest” free time to check out Buffalo Tom’s most recent album Quiet and Peace. It’ll be good for what ails you.

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