Darren Eubank, a local singer-songwriter and frontman of the Dallas band D and Chi, says that in times like these, musicians have to find ways to keep their art alive. Many have turned to livestreaming performances for fans on social media, like Eubank, who regularly showcases artists and performs himself in his virtual concert series Couchbound Sessions.
The singer recently began seeing videos of socially distanced curbside events for things like birthday parties and other family gatherings. Eventually, it occurred to him that while he can't play to a packed house during the pandemic, he can still hit the road with his music.
Eubank then set out to transform his Nissan Armada into a venue on wheels. All it took was an A/C power converter plugged into the cigarette lighter outlet in the backseat of his car to bring his shows to the people. He can now park his car across the street from his audience and set up in a matter of four minutes.
"The first one was really cool," Eubank says. "As soon as I was done I had messages saying, 'Hey, could you come to my place?' It's been picking up a lot."
In the last couple of weeks, Eubank has played about nine curbside concerts, an event which he has dubbed Songs From The Street. He has even more lined up; Eubank's goal is to play one of these shows a day.
In the Songs From The Street performances, for which Eubank is charging $50 for a 30-minute performance, he takes audiences through his music career, telling stories about the formation of his band, his time as a contestant on American Idol and the meanings behind some of his songs.
"Before I start, I just kind of tell people, 'This is an idea I came up with, and I'm happy to be doing it,'" Eubank says. "'As a musician, my life has been upended, so I appreciate you giving me the time of day to come out here. The only thing that I ask is that you stay socially distanced from me.'"
Eubank initially hadn't seen a lot of other musicians doing curbside performances but says that they have become a trend.
Paul Slavens, the radio host, local musician and "Spontaneous Song Generator," brought his improvisational show to Reid Robinson's Car-baret last week. About 40 cars turned out to see dances, a Vincent Price flick and Slavens doing his thing. Robinson had an FM transmitter so patrons could stay in their cars and send Slavens tips and song title suggestions as he spontaneously spit rhymes.
"It was pretty thrown-together but it worked out great," Slavens says of the event.
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Even the big Revelers Hall Band has taken shows to the streets to rock a few neighborhood blocks with the sounds of New Orleans. One of the band's trumpeters, Alcedrick Todd, made the front page of the Dallas Morning News metro section when he played a curbside performance for East Dallas resident David Hannah's 50th birthday.
Slavens says that through this pandemic, it's natural that some things as we know them are going to end, while some things are going to begin that we've never been before. Curbside concerts are just one of the latest moves by artists to adapt to these strange times, and it's not a concept that's exclusive to Texas. Acts from across the country are doing the same thing.
In Columbus, Ohio, musicians are playing a series of curbside shows, actually named Curbside Concerts, for senior citizens in their community. In California, a musician named Chris Lomeli is bringing his tunes to curbs throughout Coachella Valley. Eubank says he's confident this will continue to be a trend even after the coronavirus pandemic settles.
"This has caused me to expand on how I can bring entertainment to the masses," Eubank says. "People love it, and it's a great date night and special occasion thing as well."