. : : August 14, 2020 : : .
Future readers (hello from the past!) may not immediately connect the dots, but summer of 2020 is … different. We’re in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the doors to public places have been shuttered indefinitely. Live music venues, legally unable to assemble audiences and artists but still obligated to pay rent, are closing up shop all over the world. Restaurants struggle with having been shut down for months; some have begun re-opening with extremely limiting restrictions, others have likewise been unable to stay afloat and closed their doors permanently.
Kathleen Edwards, six years after retiring from music and opening a coffee shop in the Ottawa suburb of Stittsville, picked one hell of a time to try and transition back to music.
Unable to take her album out on the road to promote and likewise unable to continue to run the coffee shop, Quitters, at full capacity, she’s stuck in a holding pattern but forging ahead in a steadfast, stubborn manner which should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed her career.
Quitters is currently opened with a limited number of customers being allowed on-site concurrently. The outdoor patio is being used to accommodate the overflow of the usual regulars and coffee shop loiterers. Kathleen wisely decided to co-opt the unused space of the coffee shop to promote the album (and the shop!) and has been performing a number of interviews and short performances for radio and streaming services from the venue
On the afternoon of Kathleen Edwards’ Total Freedom album release, she assembled a rag tag group of fantastic Canadian musicians to join her in celebrating by performing (most of) the album from top to bottom.
Most of the faces should seem familiar to fans: Jim Bryson on guitar and keyboard, Aaron Goldstein on pedal steel, Jon Hynes on bass, Peter von Althen on drums, and most surprisingly (but very welcome!) is Kathleen’s ex-husband and long-time collaborator, Colin Cripps on lead guitar.
The performance was simulcast on YouTube, Facebook, Amazon Music’s Twitch, and presented by NPR, and was fantastic.
But, with most live simulcast events being sent to multiple platforms, it wasn’t without its technical snafus. The most accessible and likely most-viewed platform of the bunch was undoubtedly YouTube — so it was a real blunder that it wasn’t until a song and a half into the set that the audio was coming through with the video at all. A live concert without sound isn’t likely to capture a passingly interested viewer’s attention for very long.
And me? I was in the midst of trying something new. I’m good at audience recordings: standing in a venue with microphones clipped to my shirt’s lapels, press record, watch levels — this is my wheelhouse. But the pandemic has meant that I’ve had to look online and start capturing streaming concerts.
A slight learning curve and some configuration tweaks made it so I’m able to capture audio, which has proven useful, but this was to be my maiden voyage for capturing video as well. I’d spent a few hours earlier in the week learning, tweaking, adjusting settings, capturing samples and making sure all systems were go… but hours before the set I wondered if I shouldn’t also be capturing the audio as well? After all, isn’t that what the blog has built its name on? And if Kathleen Edwards made the concert available on YouTube after the set, my capture would be a waste of time and resources.
I hastily decided to capture the audio stream separately from the video stream, which opened up a whole new can of worms. Would my aging computer and middling hardware be able to keep up with capturing live high definition video while simultaneously recording high quality audio in another application?
A couple of quick tests seemed to indicate it would be a minor stress test, but everything should work. The lack of audio in the stream from the aforementioned snafu definitely made me anxious. I could hear nothing nothing coming from my headphone monitors, but I couldn’t check my audio application without compromising the video capture (why don’t I have dual monitors?!).
Was it working, but the dual capture confusing the monitors? Was the dual capture cancelling out the feed? What was wrong and how could I fix it without sacrificing either the audio or video stream?!
I picked up my cell phone and connected it to the YouTube feed. I didn’t hear anything there, either. I jammed up repeatedly on the volume button. It’s all the way up — why aren’t I hearing audio here, too? Surely, if the feed wasn’t working, a tech would stop the band so they could fix things, right?!
I quickly checked the YouTube video’s comments: Yup. Lots of complains about no sound. Phew. It was’t my setup after all. The weight of guilt lifted off my shoulders, but I still wanted to grab quality copies of this concert for the fans who missed it or wanted to revisit it.
Someone noted in the YouTube comments that the Facebook audio feed was working, so I made the executive decision to cut the video recording. I quickly confirmed the audio spectrum was flat-lined and I’d so far captured zilch.
I opened Facebook and clicked around like a mad person. I couldn’t find the feed anywhere. I mean, I know it was somewhere, but in my rash, panicked state, I couldn’t see it. I tried to find the Amazon Twitch page, but not having a Twitch account, I didn’t really know what I was doing. Without options, I resigned to going back to the YouTube page, hit record, and kept my fingers crossed.
There was still no audio, and the band was halfway into the second song. “Maybe they’ll restart the set when they find out no one heard the first song or two?” I hoped, pledging with myself to give it another five-minutes before giving up altogether.
Luckily, within a minute or so, the audio faded in. All systems were finally go.
And that’s what we have here. As such, the first 8-minutes or so of the recording are missing, and there’s a couple of extremely brief cutouts at the onset of the mid-set interview, but the rest of it is in tact.
I’m glad I didn’t quit (ha ha). The band was on fire, sounded fabulous, and performed great, energetic versions of the new tracks. We were even treated to a four-song “encore” of sorts, including three older songs and a surprising new Neil Young cover.
Check it all out below; you’ll find the FLAC audio files first, and the video below that. Please remember the first minute or so of the video has no audio! Check out the video details for chapter breaks / links to specific songs. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!
!! EDIT !! Another, more complete capture was shared by my friend over at Teenage Dogs In Trouble, so jump over there for the audio capture of the ENTIRE set, and then you’re welcome to swing back on over here for the video. Thanks, “binky”!
- Glenfern [not captured]
- Hard on Everyone [cut]
- Birds on a Feeder
- Simple Math
- Options Open
- Feelings Faded
- Fools Ride
- Ashes to Ashes
- Who Rescued Who
- Goodnight California
- Six O’Clock News
- Comes a Time [Neil Young]
- Sweet Little Duck