One of the first things we lost with the shelter-in-place order was live music. Many fans have turned to the internet for your musical fix. I’ve been watching my favorite artists livestream from their living rooms and garages, a steady flow of heart bubbles and comments rising as the video feed stutters and chops. I’ve seen friends scrolling back through their Facebook timelines, re-posting shaky concert clips from the old days when we held our cell phones aloft over the heads of the crowd to capture a magical moment, to prove we were there. It’s tough to be a live music fan right now, let alone a musician or staffer at a venue that counts on crowds to make a living.
Before the world changed, local musician and sound engineer Jesse DeCarlo got a jump start on connecting musicians with audiences online. He’d been thinking about how people engage with music on social media and analyzing successful accounts like MonoNeon, Postmodern Jukebox and Scary Pockets. He realized that musicians needed to do more than post a link to a song on Bandcamp. They needed video as well as audio to capture audiences’ attention. So he set out to create a channel for local musicians to record and showcase their talent, with top-notch sound and high-quality video.
“I’m a big believer in musicians helping each other.”
DeCarlo posts a new video to his Live from Monterey YouTube channel every Monday (and shares it on Facebook and Instagram, natch). He’s avoided any gimmicks, keeping the production simple but elegant. There are no fast cuts; the camera remains still and intensely focused on local artists giving live, heartfelt performances. So far, he’s released songs from local artists Casey Fraiser, Taylor Rae and Johan Sotelo, among others.
DeCarlo, who grew up in Monterey, has been a fixture on the music scene since he returned to the area in 2002. For a while, his primary project was the Dani Page Band, which enjoyed a local following and toured the West Coast. They eventually parted ways to pursue different interests. DeCarlo kept up “the hustle of being a working musician,” playing in cover bands and honing his skills as a soundman and recording engineer.
He helped record albums for Fraiser, Lillie Lemon/Kinder Creatures, and Wild and Blue. As a recording engineer, DeCarlo says, “The most important thing is to give the musicians in the room what they need – physically and psychologically – to be comfortable to give their best performance.”
This approach also comes through in his videos. Each is recorded completely live with no overdubs or editing.
Most releases so far have been recorded in DeCarlo’s home studio near downtown Monterey, or his buddy and 5star bandmate Richard Bryant’s slightly larger home studio in Pacific Grove.
One of the musicians, James Lee Murray, recalls DeCarlo committing to a moving shot instead of a camera. “About halfway through the shot I could tell his arms were killing him. But he stuck it out and got the shot. He’s dedicated.”
DeCarlo has a few unreleased sessions from his home studio to work through. He can also dip into a vault of previously recorded live performances thanks to a collaboration with Folktale Winery and KRML’s Live in the Vines concert series in the barrel room.
DeCarlo hopes to help the area artists he admires find a larger audience. “I’m a big believer in musicians helping each other and supporting each other,” he says. Now more than ever, it’s that kind of thinking that will help all of us – fans and musicians alike – get through.