Live music lives on through virtual performances at The Cabin

UAC hosts live shows at The Cabin virtually on Fridays or Saturdays

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This past February, the local band Good Morning Bedlam performed at The Cabin.

Fridays and Saturdays at The Cabin are filled with music once again as the University Activities Commission continues to hold live concerts virtually.

Joann Martin, coordinator of student activities and UAC advisor, said the UAC is one part of the Student Senate on campus and serves as the campus-wide events programming board at UW-Eau Claire. Part of the segregated student fees go to UAC so students can attend UAC events at no charge or reduced cost.

UAC programmers select, promote and produce a wide variety of cultural, educational and entertainment programs for the university community, Martin said.

“There are five different committees who put on events: concerts, festivals, films, late night and public relations,” Martin said.

Samuel Stein, co-chair for UAC and third-year music composition and applied mathematics student, said the goals of these virtual performances are to bring people together and to give artists an outlet — since most musicians had to go on hiatus during the pandemic.

“We want to maintain a sense of campus community and entertainment throughout this difficult and unprecedented time,” Stein said.

Due to COVID-19, the UAC has had to find another way for artists to perform live at The Cabin on campus, Martin said.

“It never seemed like an option to put Cabin shows on hold,” Martin said. “Last spring semester, we asked artists to perform virtually on Facebook Live from their homes because we had very little time to pivot.”

Prior to the pandemic, The Cabin had been hosting shows each semester for a little over 50 years, Martin said. There were different performers on Friday and Saturday nights. This year, UAC has been keeping performers limited to local artists or student groups.

“In a usual semester, our net is cast wider to have more regional and national artists,” Martin said. “We also typically had two to three open mic nights each semester.”

Not only has the pandemic affected people’s ability to watch in person or the number of artists who can play at once, but the sets are also earlier and shorter than they would normally be, Martin said.

Stein said COVID-19 has created a lot of obstacles for UAC to jump through in regards to planning events.

“I had big dreams of making The Cabin a hub for students and local musicians,” Stein said. “The pandemic created the obvious difficulty of continuing these events in an online format.”

Stein started in the fall semester with almost no answers in terms of where they could stream from and other important facts, he said. They had to come up with a new concept to what it had been in the past since it was outside the norm for booking live music.

“It was a waiting game,” Stein said. “We had to come up with new ideas and wait for answers to see if it was actually a possibility considering the pandemic.”

Stein is also a musician and has performed during these events. Although nothing can compare to live performance, it was a necessary switch and he’s grateful to be able to play at all, he said.

“For musicians like me, this is what we live for and nothing can live up to it,” Stein said.

Nick Anderson, a UW-Eau Claire alumnus and current performer at The Cabin, said UAC virtual events have been great to perform in.

“We have an absolute blast playing at UAC virtual events,” Anderson said. “It’s great with the multiple camera angles and great sound.

Anderson is in a band — Nick Anderson and The Skinny Lovers — that performs about once a year on campus, he said. About 80% of their income is lost since the loss of live performances.

“We really miss playing for people in person,” Anderson said.

The band just released a new album which can be bought on its website.

Both Martin and Stein agreed that eventually the goal is to have the performances be completely in person again.

“There have been ideas about easing back into in-person with outdoor shows once everything is safer,” Stein said.

Although there is hope with the vaccine, it is still too risky to start drawing any type of crowd, he said. For now, everything is played by ear to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Currently, events are online at 6 p.m. on Fridays or Saturdays on uwec.ly/live. See The Cabin webpage for a full list of performances.

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“We are doing a $25 Woodman’s gift card giveaway for students who tag @uwec.uac on Instagram to let us know they are watching,” Martin said. “One winner will be randomly selected every week.”

There is no need to sign up ahead of time to watch the events. The Cabin stream information is on the UWEC master calendar, the UAC webpage, Blugold Connect, the UAC Facebook page and Instagram.

Lunderville can be reached at [email protected]