Music lovers and area musicians are in for a treat beginning in March, with a new online concert series from Vankleek Hill and the return of the Laurentian region’s popular 4Korners concert series.

The Facebook page Saken Means Music, run by Vankeek Hill Porchfest founder Ken Duff, will kick off its online concert series on Sunday, March 14, at 4 pm, with an interview and concert by singer-songwriter Lynne Hanson.

The Ottawa artist is one of many professional musicians who have been struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hanson, who released an album in late 2019, saw sales stall and all of her planned live performances for 2020 canceled due to the pandemic.

“We want to bring in people like that and open the tip jar,” says Duff, who with his interviews hopes to shed light on the issues musicians are facing, as well as raise funds for charitable organizations. “For musicians who don’t depend on their music for a living, we are encouraging them to donate the funds to a charity, but it will be their choice.”

Other performers already scheduled for Sunday concerts on Saken Means Music include Vankleek Hill’s Martin Lacelle, Windsor singer-songwriter Karen Morand, and St. Lazare singer Larry Cool – who has requested to have his tips donated to a fund to support musicians. More artists are being added and the full schedule will be updated on the Saken Means Music Facebook page as artists sign on.

Unlike many livestream events on Facebook, where artists broadcast from their homes, the Saken concerts will be streamed live from Duff’s personal studio in Vankleek Hill. The studio – which has been set up so band members are safely distanced from each other – will solve many of the problems faced in having artists stream themselves, and will allow them to just be musicians.

“My musical friends are all scrambling around to find ways to do this stuff,” Duff explains. They don’t really like to get involved in the live-streaming technology part – they just want to play music.”

Duff is also the coordinator of the popular West Quebec 4Korners music concert series on Facebook. A non-profit group which connects individuals in the Laurentians region with programs and services, 4Korners received a Heritage Canada grant in 2019 to support English-language arts. The group had been hosting concerts by local artists at a cafe in Deux Montagnes before the COVID-19 pandemic shut them down.

To fill the gap, 4Korners hosted the Friday evening live concerts on its Facebook page, bringing a total of 30 live performances online from April through October 2020. Since November, the page has been broadcasting reruns of the summer concerts.

The live music will start up again on Friday, March 12, with a performance by Deux Montagnes artist Jim Brown. Other musicians and bands are scheduled every second Friday through June, and Duff is planning to add even more.

“We’re leaving the in-between weeks open so that if we get some new musicians recruited, we have a place for them instead of waiting until July,” the 4Korners concert organizer notes.

All of the 4Korners Friday evening concerts will be broadcast beginning at 7:30 pm. The full schedule will also be posted online at Saken Means Music.