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Christine Lavin enlists Julie Gold for her second 'laptop concert'

It’s short notice, but contemporary folk music star Christine Lavin is doing her second “live laptop concert” tonight from 8-9 p.m. ET, at

Promotional piece for a performance by Christine Lavin and Julie Gold.
Christine Lavin

In an email sent out last night to “my favorite singer-songwriters and people who love music,” Lavin announced that she and fellow singer-songwriter Julie Gold ("From A Distance") will broadcast a joint performance from Gold’s Greenwich Village apartment.

“I will put my laptop on her Steinway--it's a low tech affair--and people can watch by paying whatever they want, from $1 up,” wrote Lavin. “This concert isn't taped or archived. It's like a video version of Instagram: It's there, then it's gone.”

Tonight’s laptop concert follows Lavin’s laptop show last Tuesday, which was successful, though not without a major hitch.

“I had forgotten I was supposed to go live at 8 p.m. on Tuesday—‘til at 8:11 p.m.," she said. "I saw the 'reminder' email. I panicked for four minutes. I was in my pajamas and my hair was sticking up funny. I had never done one of these things--I didn't even know how it worked.”

Lavin was supposed to play from 8 p.m. to 8:30.

“I logged on at 8:15 with my bathrobe on, finding there were 20 people waiting patiently for me in cyberspace,” she continued. “I had planned to apologize and refund the money--but then I figured, what the heck. So I played a couple songs, and then at 8:30 again I apologized and told them I would refund the money. But because they can type back-and-forth with the performer--one of them typed that I could play longer--so again, I thought, what the heck. So I played songs ‘til 9 p.m.--in my bathrobe with my hair sticking up funny. Because I'm still very new to this I wasn't reading along with their comments, and didn't realize they were 'tipping' me for playing extra.”

Lavin later discovered positive reviews at the Concert Window site “despite how awkwardly I started out.”

“The way it works is that they take one-third, you get two-thirds,” she explained, noting, “I was paid for singing and playing guitar in my bathrobe in my own apartment--and I didn't tell a soul that I was doing it. Somehow those 20 people found out.”

Actually, Concert Window tallied 41 listeners.

“So Monday night will be my second experience, and I have asked Julie Gold to do it with me,” said Lavin. “That's why I'm taking my laptop to her place: It's really hard for her to get her piano in the trunk of a cab.”

And while she doesn’t know how well this second laptop concert in a week will do, this time she’ll be posting on Facebook.

“I'm also emailing my web list,” she said. “We will be sitting side-by-side on her piano bench, doing a couple songs together, most solo, trading off back-and-forth.”

And Lavin stressed that she wasn’t emailing anyone just “to boost our take on this,” and instructed friends who do decide to watch to “just pay $1 since we don't have a 'guest list' per se.”

But “if this turns out to be a viable way to connect with far-flung fans and to make some extra income--I know so many of us have watched our income dip due to digital downloads, sharing, etc.--if this is a way to make up some of that, this could be something that we all do, maybe even on a regular basis,” she said.

As of 9:22 p.m. last night, Lavin had sold five tickets at $41.08.

“This is 'pay whatever you want'--so it's very nice that those who've bought in advance are springing for more than the $1 minimum!” she said. “So we know my subway fare is covered.”

But she expects that most of the tickets will be sold in the hour before the show.

“Let me know if you want to know what our take is tomorrow, which will give you an idea if this is something you'd like to do for yourself,” she told her fellow singer-songwriters, and noted that if any refer other artists to Concert Window, they get 10 percent of the site’s take on the first concert they do, “so by promoting each other, that's also making some walkin' around money,’” she said.

But Lavin stated that she has no affiliation with Concert Window “other than I think this is a great way to get more exposure for good music.”

"I've done a couple of concerts where there is a camera in the venue that broadcasts a show--but I'm really more interested in these laptop concerts because they are so personal,” she said. “The viewers chat back-and-forth while watching [and] I think ultimately it will get more people out to our live events, too. Since the concerts aren't archived or taped, they're here, then they're gone.”

And she noted that while you can hook up an external microphone, she is choosing not to, “because I like having nothing between me and the viewer.”

“I know that laptop concerts might not work for all of us, but I had fun, made some extra money, and you know me! I want all of us to have fun and make some extra money,” Lavin concluded.

Incidentally, Concert Window has plenty of other artists online this week for laptop concerts, including Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers, Darden Smith, Bucky Pizzarelli & Ed Laub Duo and Beppe Gambetta.

[The Examiner is cited on Page 362 of Christin Lavin's Cold Pizza For Breakfast: A Mem-wha??]

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