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Virtual concert series offers monthly streaming shows, performance space for bands

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Dwarf Star Studios of Carrboro will host three local bands in a monthly virtual concert series at 7 p.m. Thursday. Graphic courtesy of John May.

Carrboro-based Dwarf Star Studios will present three local bands in a monthly virtual concert series at 7 p.m. Thursday. The free show will have most bands stream in from remote locations, with one using the Cat’s Cradle in Carborro as a performing space. 

The Unsustainables, Fat Bastard Blues Band and Harbors will all participate in the virtual concert, with sounds ranging from ska to the blues and alternative music. While Fat Bastards Blues Band and Harbors will be playing from their own remote places, The Unsustainables will be utilizing the Cat’s Cradle as a performance space. 

The series is meant to showcase rising local bands and musicians. John May, the owner of Dwarf Star Studios, said that streaming has opened doors for a number of bands that are looking to explore and increase the quality of virtual shows with in-person limitations. 

“Throughout this six months, seven months, I've actually made more relationships with bands than in the previous two years before that,” May said. “COVID has kind of closed some doors with in-person stuff, but it also opened up some other doors with people reaching out further than they might normally be reaching out to try to find opportunities.”

Although the series is free to stream, audience members are able to give tips that the bands split up at the end of the performances. 

“This series is to benefit the bands themselves,” May said. ”Whereas some of the previous stuff I've done has been to benefit causes or venues or that kind of thing.”

By using Cat’s Cradle, The Unsustainables said that they are hoping to have an improvement in their sound by having access to a fully rigged stage. 

“Cat's Cradle is such a sacred place for the music scene for Carborro, for Chapel Hill and just have the opportunity to play at The Cradle, and to support The Cradle as well,” William Vizuete, bass player for The Unsustainables, said. 

While The Unsustainables will be playing to an empty room, Vizuete said that it means a lot to the band to promote the venue. 

“We're really happy to be there, and they got some really good folks there and they’ve got a really really tight setup,” Vizuete said. “So I think it's going to be pretty good.”

Carl Wetter, the vocalist, songwriter and guitarist of Fat Bastards Blues Band, said that he expects the band to be a little bit rusty. Because of the public health safety risk, his band has not been able to see one another for months. 

“I suppose my expectations are fairly low in regard to what I'm expecting to get out of anything,” Wetter said. “I certainly enjoy having some attention being pulled to the band, you know, to get our profile up...when people listen to something that hopefully they deem is good music is more than I could ever expect to get out of any of this.”

May said that while live streams during this series have been around 250 to 300 audience members, they see an increase in views from recorded performances. 

“I consider that a pretty good turnout for bands that are not necessarily big draws,” May said. “And if you compare it to a venue, I think a couple 300 is doing pretty good. But it has been a challenge to really kind of advertise the series and build an audience.”

Rising alternative band Harbors was supposed to play their first show earlier this year, but now they are looking forward to getting a good amount of viewers through tomorrow’s virtual concert. 

“We were getting ready to go to the venue and texting with the other bands,” Michael Itzkin, a singer and a guitarist for Harbors, said. “Like, 'Should we even play tonight, is this a good idea?’ And then ultimately decided, let’s just call it off, try again in a month. And obviously, it's been eight months now and who knows when we'll ever get to play out?”

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