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Quarantine Open Mic provides artistic diversion from coronavirus

By Brenda Meadows

Staff Writer

Music lovers, and/or people wanting something to do while they wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to subside, can go to ‘Queen City Shout (Quarantine Open Mic)’ on Facebook Live to view area artists sharing their talent. Some of them will play their versions of standards or unveil some originals, with or without lyrics.

Entertainer Eddie Gumucio started the nightly performances so anyone, on any night of the week, could get a break from the nightly news.

Gumucio, who launched the Queen City Shout Festival more than a decade ago, did so as a means to celebrate the arts (music/art/film) and to support poverty relief efforts in the area. Now, he is taking that same idea to help people stay connected by using the arts and Facebook Live where people who are quarantined.

Entertainer Eddie Gumucio started the nightly Queen City Shout (Quarantine Open Mic) so local performers could share their talent with people needing encouragement while going through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Special to Branson Globe)

“I’ve been a singer/songwriter around the area for just now over 20+ years,” he said. “The idea for QOM came from a friend of mine locally who sent a link of an online group of musicians in Pennsylvania that had started one for their area in the NE. I took inspiration from their group in putting together the one for our area.”

As the COVID-19 continues to spread, making it necessary for people to practice social distancing, and stay at home orders, Gumucio said it made sense to provide an outlet for people who are feeling anxious or confined.

“We currently have just shy of 4500 members in the group and i’ve been running this consecutively now for 18 days.” Gumucio said. “I have taken on three additional administrators for the group that serve as rotating hosts for the different evenings. It’s been a blessing and has allowed me to step back a little after two weeks and spend more quality time with my family.”

Krista Meadows is an Queen City Shout (Quarantine Open Mic) administrator and a local performer. (Special to Branson Globe)

Branson Entertainer Fletcher Columbus (Friar Fletch) sees, not only spending time with loved ones from being a participant in QOM. It satisfies brings the “familiar” back to peoples lives.

“Love and outreach,” he said. “That, and folks have a real hankering for expression, particularly at this boarded up time. It gives a certain sense of normalcy.”

Administrator Todd Osbern said he had been playing weekly gigs as a soloist or with his bands for about 10 years. But, the COVID-19 put a stop to his jobs.

“So when that abruptly stopped with the COVID-19 quarantine rules, it definitely shook up my world,” Osborn said. “I had several wonderful opportunities and large gigs in the calendar for the upcoming months, all of which have either been cancelled or rescheduled with a TBD date. So for me, from an artists’ perspective, the emotional and creative outlet generated by Eddie’s creation of the QOM is something I’m deeply grateful for on a heart and soul level.”

The Open Mic performances are 5-11p.m. daily. Each performer is assigned a 25 minute slot. No personal advertising is allowed.

Administrator Todd Osborn performs for Queen City Shout (Quarantine Open Mic).

(Special to Branson Globe)

Duties of an administrator for QOM is to introduce each act, answer questions, delete random posts during the performance times and keep the overall flow of the show going smoothly. All of this is done at their homes while they watch the Open Mic.

Administrator Krista Meadows was working in Las Vegas and had just signed a contract with a cruise line when the pandemic put a stop to everyone’s plans.

“It's strange that only a few months ago, musicians were asking folks to put down their phones in order to be seen/heard, and now we are asking that they pick up their phones in order for us to be seen/heard,” Meadows said. “What is positive about this new experience, is that people are tuning in to see artists because they want to, not because they have to.

Although performing in the QOM lineup helps artists sharpen their talent so they can return to their careers when the pandemic is over, there is another purpose. And viewers can express their thanks on the Facebook screen, straight to the performer.

Entertainer Fletcher Columbus (Friar Fletch) gets a little interruption from his pet during a practice. (Special to Branson Globe)

“One {message} that really touched me was from a nurse,” Meadows said. ‘"I am a nurse at Mercy hospital,’ it said.” “‘Listening to the local talent each evening helps take my mind off the task at hand and gives me relaxation. Thanks for providing that.”'

Meadows also sees it serving another purpose.

“A new, deeper relationship is forming that we haven't seen in decades due to the distraction of technology,” she said. “Now the technology is providing a window for our re-connection. And the opportunity to help it develop, expand and touch other people’s lives in a positive way is something I’m very proud to be a part of.”

For more information go to Facebook: Queen City Shout (Quarantine Open Mic).

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