Written by Ashley Paskill
It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone. However, for musicians and bands like the Adam Ezra Group, the pandemic has meant trying to find new ways to perform and creative ways to continue sharing music in the face of canceled concerts.
For Adam Ezra, this meant jumping online every night, despite his own COVID battle and his wedding, to perform music for his fans. On the first night of canceled tour dates, Ezra went live online to perform for fans to help him cope with everything that was happening.
“I was feeling pretty scared and alone and I decided to go online,” said Ezra. “We had not had a lot of experience playing online concerts and if you had told me back then that performing to a computer screen could be an inspiring thing, I would have said that you were crazy.”
Ezra viewed the online performance as a way to connect with his fans who were also feeling the weight of everything going on. After the first night, he decided that he would do the same thing the next night, and it has only grown from there. Ezra said that the second night, there were twice as many people as the first night.
“7:00 pm, I’ll be online and there will be people now from all over the world there with me,” said Ezra.
As the series continued to grow, and fans kept tuning in, it has grown a lot. There are online records of the songs the bands share and it eventually came to be called The Gathering series. There have even been terms that have been adopted by the fans who have tuned in.
“What’s amazing is, while that might feel like it would create this kind of insular community, I’m so impressed by the culture around the Gathering series that is so embracing and open,” said Ezra. “Somebody will come online for the first time and the regular Gatherers will be so quick to embrace them and hang with them and answer questions that they have.”
For Ezra, this series has challenged him as an artist and has gotten him through the tough points of this past year.
Another highlight of this community for Ezra has been seeing his community grow.
“A lot of fans have been with me and have known me as an underground Americana artist from Boston. Seeing this community just grow and spread throughout the world has been a pretty exciting thing to experience with everybody.”
In conjunction with the online Gathering series, in the summer of 2020, the band was able to perform live shows. Fans were able to apply to host a show and volunteers came out to help make sure everything was socially distanced and safe.
“We ended up doing almost 50 live shows together in conjunction with the online series with no cases of COVID,” said Ezra. “To me, that was an accomplishment I just felt so proud of.”
Ezra says they are hoping to do a similar thing this coming spring and summer, but are looking forward to returning to regular performances.
“Fingers crossed that’ll happen sooner rather than later, but we’re prepared to do what we have to do to continue to share music no matter how we’re able to share it,” said Ezra.
On March 12, Ezra and his band will be celebrating their 365th show. To commemorate the milestone, and to continue with their song releases, they will be releasing a recording of “Switching To Whiskey.” Ezra co-wrote it with Clint Daniels and has been a popular request among fans, even though it has not been released yet.
“[It’s] like no other song we’ve ever played live, it became our most requested song from our fan community,” said Ezra. “It wasn’t even released yet and fans would ask for it every night, no matter where we were in the country. We didn’t even know how they were finding out about this song. To me, the Gathering Series is something that is built from our community. We wanted to celebrate that community in this milestone, in this 365th Gathering.”
This release is the second song in a series of tracks the band is putting out. Earlier this year, the band released “All Right Today.” Even though the song was written before the pandemic took place, Ezra felt like this was the right time to put it out there.
“Rather than wait for them all to be finished, what we’ve decided is that we want to continue to share new music with this fast-growing community,” said Ezra. “That song is something born out of my belief that we all are connected to one another and it’s through our toughest challenges when that connection can be tested in the hardest ways and also inspire us in the deepest ways. It felt like an appropriate sentiment as we’re all struggling so deeply to survive together and get through this time.”
Since the song was released, it has been shared widely online, and Ezra attributes that to having a platform each night to talk about the new music. Even though it is not a replacement for live music and touring, doing the online shows has allowed Ezra and the band to tell the fans about the whole process of the song, from writing to producing.
“I feel like it’s really helping them connect deeply with the song in ways they probably wouldn’t have been able to have I not been off tour and online every night with them,” said Ezra.
Through it all, Ezra says that the Gathering Series has gotten him through some of his hardest days and toughest moments throughout the pandemic. It has given him and his fans a way to connect like never before and help make things less lonely for everyone.
“This last year has been a pretty horrific year for all of us, the things that we’re all experiencing alone and together,” said Ezra. “The Gathering series, for me, has really in a lot of ways saved me and gotten me through my darkest hours and my worst moments.”
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