When it comes to New Year's Eve shows, both Gully Boys and Davina & the Vagabonds have been there before. Multiple times. When it comes to streaming a New Year's Eve concert this year, well, both Minneapolis bands say it's weird.
The manic but melodic Gully Boys recorded their gig a couple of weeks ago at Mortimer's bar in Minneapolis. It is the trio's first foray into streaming during the pandemic.
"It was kind of strange," Gully Boys drummer Nadi McGill said of the performance without an audience. "We love Mortimer's a lot. I feel like it was really comforting to be back on that stage. It was very different energy playing a song to silence. It was kind of awkward. It was a weird adjustment. It's easy to play a show and build off the energy of the crowd. But it was just the camera crew of three people."
Davina & the Vagabonds entered the livestreaming world in June at the Hook & Ladder, in the riot-torn Longfellow neighborhood of south Minneapolis, just weeks after George Floyd was killed.
"It was fun, and it was weird," said singer/pianist Davina Lozier, who is accustomed to singing to partying people, not to a camera.
"I love performing. I'm a ham. I was looking at a camera but I was still trying to connect with a community as much as I possibly can," said the high-energy performer, who lives three blocks away from the Hook. "As a person in this neighborhood, I felt a sense of strength and community, and it felt freeing for me to do that."
For the 11th straight year, Davina & the Vagabonds will ring in the New Year at the Dakota in Minneapolis. But the 8 p.m. show will be over long before midnight, and it will be streamed via dakotacooks.com ($20).
When the veteran combo takes its New Orleans-flavored jazz and soul around the world, Lozier talks up the Dakota.
"It's like my home base, so it's really exciting that I can have friends from all over the world — it won't be time-specific New Year's for them — see the Dakota and celebrate 2021 with us," she said. "Plus, I get to play with my flippin' band. That's what I did for decades, and now I'm not doing it all."
Even though Lozier won't be counting down at midnight onstage, she promises an appropriate program to say goodbye to this unforgettable year and hello to 2021.
"Some of the stuff should be poignant and some of it should be partying. That's exactly who we are."
Gully Boys will have guests
After playing the past two New Year's Eve gigs in front of in-person audiences in Madison, Wis., and Carol Stream, Ill., the college-age Gully Boys have dubbed their virtual show as "URL NYE." The 9 p.m. program will also feature Nur-D, Bugsy and Natl Park Srvc. The performances will be streamed at twitch.tv/driftermusicgroup. Donations are welcomed.
Since the summer, Gully Boys have been rehearsing and recording, "trying to stay up on our chops as safely as we can," said McGill. They reached out to Drifter Music Group, a St. Paul production company, to partner with them on "URL NYE." The trio will debut two new songs in the streamed concert, and they promise some live cut-in announcements and commentary during the broadcast.
Other options for NYE music include:
• Pants Optional NYE Jam, livestreaming from the Hook & Ladder, with Dave Simonett, Lady Lark, Drag Queen Lip Sync Battle, the Mall and Your Smith DJ set, 8:30 p.m. Thu. $20, crowdcast.io/e/hive-nye.
• Twin Cities Jazz Festival Live, offering "COVID Year in Review," with streaming clips of Jon Weber, Debbie Duncan, Robert Robinson, Rio Nido and others. 6 p.m. Thu. twincitiesjazzfestival.com
• Blues Fest Live, offering "Year End Revue" with streaming clips of Big George Jackson, Joyann Parker, Corey Stevens, Chubby Carrier and others. 7 p.m. Thu. crowdcast.io/e/blues-fest-live-year-end/
• The Sounds of Blackness' "The Night Before Christmas," an African American adaptation of the Clement Moore poem, streaming on demand now through Dec. 31, $25, Ordway.org.
• "An Andy & Bing Christmas," featuring Ben Utecht as Andy Williams and Mick Sterling as Bing Crosby, streaming on demand Dec. 26-31, $20-$40, Chanhassendt.com
Twitter: @JonBream • 612-673-1719