When Sam Platts and his band, the Great Plainsmen, found themselves looking for a way to continue sharing music during the pandemic, they sought something sustainable that could bring together other musicians.
“With the virus, most of our avenues for playing live are shut down – just like they are for other musicians in the region,” says Platts. The Wyoming native and veteran of Wylie and the Wild West now calls the tiny town of Pony home. He and the band are devoted to traditional country and honky-tonk.
In a stroke of luck, they connected with Pat Lokken, a videographer and technology guru from Bozeman, and together, they have created a weekly livestream, Live with Sam Platts and the Great Plainsman, that airs at 6 p.m. Sundays and is available afterward via Facebook and YouTube.
After the first shows, Tessy Lou Williams, a talented country-hued singer who moved back home from Austin to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic, joined as a weekly featured guest.
Hosted at a restored barn near Norris, the show is designed in the vein of 1960s and ’70s country variety shows, like the Porter Wagoner Show and the Johnny Cash Show.
While casual livestreams from musicians’ homes have been a great way to connect with fans during the COVID-19 pandemic, Platts wanted to design something that could stand on its own as a recorded video. With the help of Lokken, the 90-minute show is filmed and streamed live from a stage with multiple cameras and high-quality sound.
“It’s proving to be a great way for the music community to come together to put a show on,” says Platts. Each taping is live, and streamed as-is, without editing. The friendly repartee, storytelling and intimate feel help musicians bring “the closest thing to a live performance possible into people’s homes.”
Having their own avenue to share music has been great for the band; however, connecting with other musicians has been the biggest highlight. Past guests have included acts like Marcedes Carroll, Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs, and Brigid and Johnny Reedy. Montana native and Nashville songwriter Kostas took the stage Jan. 10 in a show devoted to his hefty catalogue of tunes; storied bluesman Dave Walker takes center stage Jan. 17.
Upcoming guests include Southwest Montana favorites Montana Rose, and Hi-Line yodeler and cowpoke Wylie Gustason. “Other musicians are looking for new outlets to share their music too,” says Platts.
At this point, the show has been a labor of love for Platts and the band, who use tips to pay for the video production. With a solid catalogue of livestreams under their belt and increasing viewership, the group plans to begin offering sponsorship opportunities with the goal of being able to pay guests a competitive wage, comparable to when they could play live.
Platts also hopes to continue the show into the future, post social distancing. Montana typically has many acts traveling through, and from more guest appearances to adding limited audiences, he sees a lot of potential for the future of the show.
To see past shows, visit the links below:
Guest Hoke Granger: https://youtu.be/NRCnPntN7PE
Marcedes & Isaac Carrol: https://youtu.be/hGdTOOZNZ9I
Laney Lou & the Bird Dogs: https://youtu.be/F0I1fvXalcE
Brigid & Johnny Reedy: https://https://youtu.be/sjptGii4FhI