LIVE: Tommy V Live, the 80s Edition 6/6/2020


And wham, just like that we are back in 1984.

No, not the Orwell novel about Big Brother, not the fact that we had our first female presidential candidate, not even the year Alex Trebek carved out his place as the best Jeopardy! host ever.  And not even Clara complaining to her friends “Where’s the Beef?”

But it seems we are now living the 1984 Kevin Bacon classic Footloose!  Ren, a city-boy moved to the Midwest where music and dancing were banned.  He fought the system to bring music back to life.  Showing how it was used for celebrating, for encouragement and hope. And boy, we can certainly use that nowadays!

Photo by Stephanie Bartik

It seems again today, music and dancing have been outlawed.  Musicians have a need to play, venues need the musicians to keep their businesses afloat, people need to get out of their homes and have fun, away from all the doom and gloom on TV.  And yes, band photographers are jonesing to shoot people! Sorry, it is just what we have to do!

What started out as local musicians posting cell phone, or iPad video and has certainly provided a ‘second best to the real thing’ product.  We are not seeing as many shaky videos, poor sound, or kitchen table ‘stages’ where you are distracted by what they left on the stove.  We appreciated it, it was good to ‘somewhat’ hear our music.  It kept us connected.  Then we got to ZOOM like shows, watching your band like it was watching the opening credits of The Brady Bunch.  

But now, the ‘Rens’ of the music world, trying to connect and get the real experience to the fans.

Photo by Stephanie Bartik

Bands are trying new things to get the music out to the fans.  They are playing in barns, garages, fields and small, but empty venues.  Locations are not disclosed. This is to protect the band as well as fans from repercussions during the lockdown. (Although they have all been adhering to the social distancing policies)

I am lucky, and, I admit, quite honored, to have been asked to record some of these shows.  It feels so good to have the live music flowing through my veins again, as I try to capture the essence of the band through my viewfinder.

I had such an experience, Saturday night, June 6th: Tucked away in a garage at an “undisclosed location”, the music became alive again.  The band was Tommy V Live! Yes, they did a live stream, but it was professional all the way,  with a high energy light show through the magic of Randy Decker, and making it sound as you were at a concert, not in a garage, was due to the expertise of Ryan Nilsen. 

The band took no funds for themselves, their ‘pay’ as was mine, was the gift of music and doing what we NEED to do.  It felt so good to get the camera in my hands again! Space was tough, trying to shoot in such a limited area was a challenge, but as the band did, I kept plugging away.

Photo by Stephanie Bartik

Personally, I struggle with how we can get into the streets over a thousand strong, yet, one man and his guitar sitting in a corner at a small, capacity-reduced restaurant cannot.  We NEED music.  And during this time, every band I have captured has not been doing this for their own gain.  One band did it to help another struggling band (Whose members were all full-time musicians without ‘real jobs’ and unemployment was not happening) Another artist did a show to benefit a local venue struggling to stay alive.  It was where she got her start, she was paying it back getting donations for the venue.

Tommy V Live did the show as a benefit for the Local Food Pantry. In the first few minutes, Facebook blocked the video.  Without missing a beat, they were able to make it happen, and happen it did! They raised over $1500 for the food pantry!

Donations are still being accepted and are greatly appreciated, to help those in our area who were hit so hard with the shutdown.

Click here to help-anything you can do is big! If you have never seen Tommy V live! you MUST make it a priority when the music breathes again.

Photo by Stephanie Bartik

Tommy V Live consists of; Tommy Verrigni – Lead Vocals, Ed Knight – Lead Guitar/Vocals, John Dodge – Bass Guitar /Vocals, and Eric Elmore – Drums.
They play the ultimate 80’s metal tunes.   The setlist for the show contained such hits as Fantasy, Bark at The Moon, Tease Me, Please me, Black Out, Welcome to the Jungle, One Way to Rock, Whole Lotta Love, Holy Diver (One of my favorites! If you are a Dio fan at all, you HAVE to see Tommy’s spot-on version of this!)

Shows like this, bring us a little light of hope.  We know we can be kind to our fellow humans, we know that we can make a difference, and it helps us believe that someday, we will be in front of the live music again–   Check out Tommy V Live! on Facebook and you can view the live show! (It starts at about the 5-minute mark, due to Facebook restrictions.  The show started late, but you do not miss any of the action!

Photo Gallery by Stephanie Bartik

1 Comment
  1. TJ Jones says

    Great job on expressing what so many are feeling, Stephanie. I won’t compliment your photos because I’ve grown tired of looking for superlatives I’ve yet to use. Water is wet. Your eye and trigger finger are FABULOUS.

    Like you, these guys are true professionals. Musicians that know “how to band”. “How to band” is a totally separate skill from just being an excellent player… they’ve got the goods on both fronts.

    Good on all of you, good for us, now let’s all help one another.

    DONATE (if you are able).

    – Tony

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