Today’s Kindness is actually a little different. This is about someone who is on the receiving end of unexpected kindness.
She came to our attention through a text from a Spy reader, Dan Van Skiver: “My friend Anna is a musician by trade. She doesn’t have a “day job,” she plays music for a living in bars, at events, etc. With everything shut down and canceled, she has no income. The feel-good part comes from a live-stream concert she did from her living room. A whole bunch of people watched and donated money to her while she played.
Like so many others, Anna Burgess found herself out of a job during the crisis. If you look on her promotion page, you’ll notice she had a full schedule of booked jobs throughout the region in the upcoming months. That’s because Burgess is really, really good at what she does. As an alternative/acoustic rock musician, Burgess’ repertoire includes both covers and original songs.
All of it came to a screeching halt when the severity of the coronavirus crisis hit.
Unable to work meant that Burgess had to come up with creative ways to support herself. So, on St. Patrick’s Day, she posted on her FB page: Alright, so I’m thinking of doing a live broadcast tonight around 8:15/8:30. I’m thinking Irish musician themed. Cranberries, anyone??
Sitting in her living room, guitar in hand Burgess put on a one and half-hour concert, because, as she said, “I missed playing.” She also added a Venmo and PayPal link in case anyone wanted to tip her. It wasn’t something she was comfortable with. “I had a little battle with myself before I did that. I was ashamed because I didn’t have much put away. It’s hard to ask for help because I have no work at all. But, I never expected this, maybe because, I think people can relate… It’s affecting everyone, not just musicians. It’s been crazy and amazing.”
The crazy and amazing part was the generosity of her viewers. First one, then many, and then hundreds of people tipped her. “I had some great friends who were very generous. But for the most part, it was $5 here and $10 there.” At last count, the video has had over 4,000 views and the best part is that Burgess was able to pay the rent and get groceries. “I had no idea, I didn’t expect this. It’s great to think that and I, and other musicians, can use other resources at this time. We’re good to hunker down now if we have to for a while,” she says.
But hunkering down is not what Burgess is doing. She’s made additional video concerts and is grateful for the opportunity to continue to entertain and do what she loves. She’s also teaming up with other artists and putting on live virtual concerts, like the one that she’ll be performing this Saturday, March 28, from 7-9 pm on FM 101.5 (WHCP Cambridge Community Radio). Dubbed CAMOCON 2020 (Cambridge Area Musicians Onward Concert), the concert is free, and tips are appreciated.
Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.