Maintaining the local music scene in Timmins
Published Sunday, May 17, 2020 2:40PM EDT
TIMMINS -- Timmins multi-instrumentalist is performing live-concerts on Facebook in an effort to maintain the local music scene.
"I thought I'd bring my accordion," said Paul Sebalj as he gets ready for his interview.
That's rare. Not many musicians are eager to play for news reporters. But that tells you a little bit about Sebalj's performing personality.
He connects with people through his music and it's why an audience is important to him.
For the month of May, Sebalj has been giving live performances on Facebook every Friday night.
"You still get a certain vibe from playing live (on Facebook) which is nice and you get to interact more with people because you're actually looking at their comments instead of them being across the bar...so that's kind of neat."
Before the pandemic, Sebalj performed regularly at the Moneta Pub.
"I play accordion, piano, base, drums, guitar, a little bit of trumpet," he chuckles.
Like many musicians he wondered where COVID-19 was going to take him and when he realized the technology was there to allow him to continue to entertain, he jumped on it.
Other local musicians are pleased he did.
"I first heard Paul play when he was five years old," reflects Brian Jones, a Timmins musician.
Sebalj comes from a family of musicians and got his start playing with his father, grandfather and their friends. He also performs at weddings, and special occasions with other local musicians like Jones.
"He's a human jukebox. He can play any song you can think of and he's connecting with his audience online as well, which is a stretch I never thought of, but he does well at it," said Jones.
Tisdale Plumbing and Heating is sponsoring Sebalj's live Friday night Facebook shows and in turn, Sebalj dedicates his shows to raise awareness about the Nova Scotia shooting tragedy, health care workers and the victims of the Sterling Avenue apartment fire in Timmins.
"When we pay our musicians for the hourly rate we often times forget all of the work that goes in behind the scenes to ensure that that performance is top notch," explains, Timmins Symphony Orchestra Violinist, Cameron Grant.
"Paul finally has an opportunity to partner with community partners like Tisdale, the founding funder of this Facebook Live...it really shows this cohesive sense of community when we look at supporting our artists."
Grant says the pandemic is showing how art has been a "critical tool for getting us through these hard times.
Paul's "ability to have perfect pitch and drum up the notes of the music almost in his head before he even begins playing is a talent that is so rare and definitely should be coveted."
Jones thinks musicians will continue to perform live on social media until they don't have to anymore. He says nothing is like a live show.
"I could go back to Paul and say take in a show with him and it's electric. You don't get that same buzz online but I think the technology is moving so fast that online will remain there, but it won't take over from live."
Those are encouraging words for Sebalj who says, "I really can't wait to start playing in venues again, you know, I miss that."