Haufbrau Open Mic (The Pandemic Sessions)
Up until March 16, 2020 the Haufbrau, part of Bozeman’s infamous Bar-muda Triangle, hosted live music seven nights a week, with Open Mics on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. When the entire state of Montana was given the stay-at-home order mid-March Bozeman musicians who rely on money from live performances to make ends meet began hatching plans to get through it, if not financially, then creatively.
“It was St Patrick’s Day. I was playing guitar on a Tuesday night and I was trying to get a group of songs together to play at Open Mic but I realized that I couldn’t go to play at the Haufbrau the next day. So I thought, maybe I’ll start a little group online and post my own open mic,” said Adam Lee Crowson, a regular performer at the Haufbrau’s weekly Wednesday Night Open Mics. Only ten minutes after Crowson’s post someone else joined the livestream, and the thing took off.
Crowson named the Facebook group Haufbrau Open Mic (The Pandemic Sessions); the first other person to post? Tyler Potter, of the local act 3 Miles to Clyde. From its beginnings, the page’s success has relied on local involvement.
Cammie Reid: In your words, what is the Pandemic Series?
Adam Lee Crowson: An outlet for musicians to share a space and share their stuff to their friends and family, so everyone can listen to it. [A place to] share their creativity with people while every body is in lockdown and self isolation.”
The Pandemic Sessions have become an outlet for creatives, not just across Bozeman, but around the world to share their passions and their creative products with each other. As a group on Facebook, artists can livestream performances or acts or publish edited videos or pictures of their art. Some artists post links to other websites, such as Youtube or Soundcloud, where more art can be found.
CR: Who performs on your series?
AC: It’s pretty general, Country, Rock , Pizza recipes -everything gets shared, color guard routine..Not only music! Anything creative! I just wanted it to be a place to share.
Most of the postings in the Facebook group are of musical performances; however, any sort of creative expression is welcomed by the page’s owners. Adam noted that the eclectic nature of the postings is one of his favorite aspects of the Facebook group, which now has over 1,500 posts that have been shared.
CR: What times do you steam?
AC: Being an open format group, anyone can post anything to the Pandemic Sessions anytime they like. The faith we’ve placed in humanity here has been rewarded. The content has been entertaining and the comments have all been friendly, with an overwhelming amount of support flowing into the Bozeman community from across the globe. I don’t want to police the page at all. I want it to form organically, as long as no one is being offensive.
CR: What would it mean if the Haufbrau Open Mic was somehow gone from our music community?
AC: It would be devastating. Just seeing how much feedback I get I can see how much everyone in the community needs it.
CR: The page grew in numbers pretty fast. How much did this surprise you?
AC: Yes, definitely. I never expected that it would get beyond me and my group of friends.
The group has now amassed more than 2,300 followers, though most do not come to the page to share anything at all, just to watch videos and connect with the art community that usually bustles throughout the city of Bozeman. Visitors to the page come from all over. Some regular commenters are from NYC and Florida, and one artist who has posted music did so all the way from Ireland. Perhaps one silver lining here is that the art community of Bozeman has expanded its reach to affect lives thousands of miles away.
Some artists accept virtual tips via Venmo, while others perform just to be involved in the community atmosphere. Either way, it is totally free to tune in. The group’s admins accept every request they receive to join the group, so no one gets left out.
CR: Do you know who has had the most submissions on the page?
AC: It’s hard to say, but not me.
CR: Do you have plans to turn this into anything bigger, or will it fade away as we re-open the economy?
AC: It will still exist, people will need a place to share music. It takes people in the comfort of their own home in their own element. There needs to be a place where people can perform on their own terms, like the lady who plays with their kids, they wouldn’t be able to come to the bar. I have a lot of friends in the community and they appreciate the outlet.
Thank you to Adam for taking the time to talk to us, and for creating such an awesome outlet for creative Bozemanites to be “alone together.” Next time you catch yourself at home dreaming of an open mic, you can find a space to perform and enjoy in your own home on the Pandemic Sessions Facebook group. We look forward to seeing you all live sometime soon!