Kettle of Fish Swim New Waters with Virtual Happy Hour

Arts & Culture

SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY MAY 22, 2020

Lost in the heartbreak of temporary bar and restaurant closures is the loss of another industry that operates tangentially: live music. The relationship between bands and bars is symbiotic, with bars providing the space and booze while bands help bring in a crowd and extend their revelry for another round of drinks (or two). This dual relationship is fruitful enough that many musicians make a living as full-time performers. Dana Lawrence, front man and founder of Kettle of Fish, is one such musician. Since 2001, Lawrence steadily built up his repertoire and reputation to the point where he and his band’s core members perform six nights a week at venues like The Blue Rooster, Siesta Key Oyster Bar, Marina Jack and Stottlemeyer’s Smokehouse. And as these venues were forced to relinquish their sit-down services, the entire live music economy found itself in a world of uncertainty.

“Some days I would leave my house at noon and not get home until 11 at night,” says Lawrence of life before COVID-19. He and his band would average six gigs a week, sometimes two in one day. As the pandemic ramped up, however, Lawrence got an early start in experimenting with other forms of performing. “I actually tested out the live stream thing as things were getting weird,” he says, “I did a couple Facebook Live shows from SKOB and Marina Jack.” Then, when Governor DeSantis announced the closure of restaurants and bars, Lawrence turned to a venue that was already ahead of the curve in adopting the ability to stream and record. “My friend Dean is the manager at Stottlemeyer’s,” says Lawrence, “and he was already putting together a webcam at the restaurant.” The venue has since become something of a production studio, with the ability to stream from as many as five different cameras on platforms like Switcher Studio. So, even as customers were no longer allowed to sit at the restaurant, live stream shows were offered six nights a week.

“We weren’t always getting paid,” says Lawrence, “but they’d feed us, and it helped keep us focused on music and our fingers moving.” The live stream format also offered Lawrence a bit of a surprise. “There’s actually more interaction in the virtual format than when you play live,” he says. Rather than wrap up a song and begin a new one amidst fading applause, the band would take time in between songs to respond to comments flooding in on the live stream. And, the production value and scope of live streams has not yet reached its peak.

Kettle of Fish is set to collaborate tonight at 6 pm with the Van Wezel for another edition of the venue’s Virtual Happy Hour. The band utilized the tropical-tiki vibe and recording ability of Stottlemeyer’s to record a set, and that recording will be edited into a live stream hosted by the Van Wezel that will include food preparations by Chef Greg Ische of Boar’s Head and signature cocktails from Christian Hershman of The Overton that viewers can make at home (recipes available online). The stream and others like it are just one way that live entertainment has tried to make do with the unprecedented times in which we find ourselves. “It’s all so new for us,” says Lawrence, “but I think it’s here to stay.”

Pictured: From left to right, Robin Swenson (keys, vocals), Rob McDowell (bass, vocals), Dana Lawrence (guitar, vocals), Thorson Moore (guitar, vocals), Pat McDonald (drums), and Brian Byrd (pedal steel). Photo by Vicky Sullivan.

For more info.

« View The Friday May 22, 2020 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

WBTT Presents Family-Friendly Rockin' Down Fairytale Lane

WBTT Presents Family-Friendly Rockin' Down Fairytale Lane

May 22, 2020

Sarasota Opera's Winter Opera Festival Opens with Tosca

Sarasota Opera's Winter Opera Festival Opens with Tosca

May 20, 2020

Choral Artists of Sarasota Will Feature a Virtual July 4th American Fanfare Concert

Choral Artists of Sarasota Will Feature a Virtual July 4th American Fanfare Concert

May 20, 2020

Sarasota Concert Association’s 2021 Great Performers Series

Sarasota Concert Association’s 2021 Great Performers Series

May 11, 2020