Norwood couple makes their recording studio barn available so local musicians can perform together at no cost

With help from sponsor Team vanRahan Century 21, Andy and Linda Tough of RMS Events are recording 'Live! At The Barn' sessions for YouTube

Local band Out On Bail (from left: Richard Simpkins, John Climenhage, Wylie Harold, and Wayne C'Connor) performs one of several numbers at Andy and Linda Tough's barn north of Norwood. The band is one of a number being featured as part of the "Live! At The Barn" series of shows recorded and presented by RMS Events and sponsored by Team vanRahan Century 21. Vidoes of the performances, along with inteviews with the musicians, will coming to YouTube starting August 21, 2020. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)
Local band Out On Bail (from left: Richard Simpkins, John Climenhage, Wylie Harold, and Wayne C'Connor) performs one of several numbers at Andy and Linda Tough's barn north of Norwood. The band is one of a number being featured as part of the "Live! At The Barn" series of shows recorded and presented by RMS Events and sponsored by Team vanRahan Century 21. Vidoes of the performances, along with inteviews with the musicians, will coming to YouTube starting August 21, 2020. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)

What has happened in the barn has typically stayed in the barn, but then 2020 has proven to be anything but typical for all of us — including musicians who continue to find the doors to almost all live music venues closed to their talents.

Enter Andy and Linda Tough of RMS Events, a multimedia enterprise specializing in audio/video production and presentation for a range of clients. On their scenic rural property north of Norwood, a huge nondescript barn is anything but inside, with advanced recording equipment fronting a stage, large by pub standards, with table seating.

The pandemic has prevented the Toughs from inviting guests to live performances in the barn, as in past summers, but music is still very much in the fresh country air. This is much to the benefit to not only participating performers but, as it will soon turn out, to those craving their fix of local live music.

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The Toughs have recently launched “Live! At The Barn”, a series of live-off-the-floor recording sessions featuring area musicians, with the goal of presenting each session on YouTube starting August 21st.

On Thursday night (July 30), Wylie Harold and Out On Bail — Richard Simpkins, John Climenhage and Wayne O’Connor — performed their blues repertoire as the cameras rolled and the sound recording console lit up. Prior sessions have seen The Gunslingers, Pat Temple, and The Fabulous Tonemasters take a turn, while future recording dates are scheduled for House Brand and The Weber Brothers.

“Once COVID hit, all live music events were cancelled, and all our jams here at the barn were cancelled,” Andy says, explaining the motivation behind the Live! At The Barn series. “Not only can’t musicians play in a club, they can’t play with each other.”

The large barn that dominates Andy and Linda Tough's property north of Norwood is not unlike any one of the many that dot the rural Ontario landscape. but it's a different story inside where audio and video recording equipment is being put to full use to the benefit of local music bands starving to get together to do what they do during the pandemic. "The Live! At The Barn" series, presented under the RMS Events banner and sponsored by Team vanRahan Century 21, will see a number of recorded performances posted to YouTube starting August 21st. (Photo courtesy of RMS Events)
The large barn that dominates Andy and Linda Tough’s property north of Norwood is not unlike any one of the many that dot the rural Ontario landscape. but it’s a different story inside where audio and video recording equipment is being put to full use to the benefit of local music bands starving to get together to do what they do during the pandemic. “The Live! At The Barn” series, presented under the RMS Events banner and sponsored by Team vanRahan Century 21, will see a number of recorded performances posted to YouTube starting August 21st. (Photo courtesy of RMS Events)

“We’ve got a big enough facility here. We can physically space people. It’s easy to clean because Mother Nature is our air exchange system. I had already planned to record our jams, so the system was already half set up.”

“It was like ‘Why don’t we see if musicians would like to come and play and record it?’ They get a video that I’ll give them for their own promotion purposes, and we can sell some sort of sponsorship to cover our costs so there’s no cost to the musicians whatsoever. That was key … obviously they’re not working.”

First to step up as sponsors of Live! At The Barn are Century 21 United Realty real estate agents Ben vanVeen and Catherine Hanrahan — Team vanRahan as they’re known collectively — who have worked with RMS Events on past events, including the Team vanRahan Summer Family Film Series.

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According to Catherine, not only is their sponsorship “a good fit” with their business’ focus on rural properties but, as vanVeen notes, both he and his partner are ardent local music supporters.

“It (COVID-19) has been a drag, not just for musicians but for guys like Andy, the A-V people and everyone working in the live performance industry,” she says, adding, “It’s nice to see something different and interesting that’s still really safe.”

While Catherine and Ben have been invited to barn jams before, this was the first time they were able to make the trek.

Andy Tough of RMS Events works the sound board during the live-off-the-floor recording of Wylie Harold and Out On Bail on Thursday night (July 30) for the "The Live! At The Barn" series. Andy is putting his audio and video recording skills to very good use during the pandemic, welcoming local music bands to his barn north of Norwood to record. The end result will be a series of shows posted to YouTube starting August 21, 2020. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)
Andy Tough of RMS Events works the sound board during the live-off-the-floor recording of Wylie Harold and Out On Bail on Thursday night (July 30) for the “The Live! At The Barn” series. Andy is putting his audio and video recording skills to very good use during the pandemic, welcoming local music bands to his barn north of Norwood to record. The end result will be a series of shows posted to YouTube starting August 21, 2020. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)

“It’s very cool,” Ben says. “It’s unique, The overall aesthetic is comforting. There’s all these different pieces that make up that aesthetic.”

“We have a barn (too)”, he adds, referring to his and Hanrahan’s farm near Havelock. “I love the old fixtures and what they’re collected here. He almost needs a little plaque beside each one reading ‘Found at …’. There’s a lot of history there.”

Musician Wylie Harold echoes that sentiment, describing the barn atmosphere as “warm … it’s in the room at all times”

Singer and guitarist Wylie Harold performs with his blues band Out On Bail Thursday night (July 30) as part of the "Live! At The Barn" series of recorded performances. Recorded and presented by RMS Events and sponsored by Team vanRahan Century 21, the series of shows will be available on YouTube starting August 21, 2020. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)
Singer and guitarist Wylie Harold performs with his blues band Out On Bail Thursday night (July 30) as part of the “Live! At The Barn” series of recorded performances. Recorded and presented by RMS Events and sponsored by Team vanRahan Century 21, the series of shows will be available on YouTube starting August 21, 2020. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)

Onstage and off, there was no wiping the huge smile off Wylie’s face — a grin anchored in the chance to be back on stage with his bandmates after months of not being able to do so.

“We miss the money obviously, but we miss playing music (together) … three or four guys locking into that magic pocket. We haven’t played together in the longest time. The last real gig I did was in December. I’ve done a couple of private functions. I did the chip truck (The Cabin at Trent) a few times. That was kind of cool. They sent me home with a bag of burgers. It was a nice little gig, but my calendar is empty like everyone else’s.”

Wylie doesn’t see live music returning to bars in any meaningful way soon.

“Alcohol makes you want to chat. It’s very social. I’m not sure what the future holds for live music. It’s not going to be walking into a bar, letting your hair down and letting it rip. I don’t know if there are better days ahead. I miss them all (his live music friends).”

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Beside the opportunity to get back together with Out On Bail, Wylie used the recording session to fine-tune songs that will be featured on his upcoming new CD. Not included on the track list is “Live Music Strong”, a song he wrote in homage of the power of live music performance.

“There’s nothing like live music. Good, bad or indifferent, wherever you are, live music just adds a little shine to anything.”

According to Andy, accompanying each concert session posted to YouTube will be an invite to donate to the featured act. Email addresses will be listed for e-transfers. A donation is not required to view the performance but, as Andy notes, it’s a chance to help out-of-work musicians.

Andy notes the each session’s video doesn’t just include the musical performance.

“We’re also interviewing each band to give people a profile of the people in the band as opposed to the musicians who are on the stage — where they came from, their influences, and that sort of stuff.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to limit the opportunities for musicians to perform together live, the door to Andy and Linda Tough's barn north of Norwood is wide open, welcoming local bands to record concert videos for presentation on YouTube starting August 21, 2020 under the title "Live! At The Barn".  (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to limit the opportunities for musicians to perform together live, the door to Andy and Linda Tough’s barn north of Norwood is wide open, welcoming local bands to record concert videos for presentation on YouTube starting August 21, 2020 under the title “Live! At The Barn”. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)

As for his RMS Events business, Andy notes the impact of the pandemic has been severe but his work on Live! At The Barn is keeping him happily busy.

“I’m in the worst business that I can be, because I do events with more than 50 people,” he says. “Everything just grounded to a halt, postponed, or cancelled outright. But, as Linda says, I can (now) walk to work and not have to load the car.”

Like Wylie, Andy is also concerned about the long-term impacts of the pandemic on the livelihood of local musicians.

“They don’t know where things are going. No singing and no dancing in clubs negates all the things they live for. How do bars depopulate for physical distancing and (still) make ends meet? They can’t make enough money to pay the musicians.”

VIDEO: Live at the Barn Intro Promo

Like everyone else, the Toughs are looking forward to life post-COVID, especially as that relates to live events they have planned for their barn space — events that were set to be organized and held this summer.

In the meantime, their focus is on Live! At The Barn.

Sponsor Team vanRahan urges people to check out each YouTube episode and do what they can to help out the featured performers.

“There are so many asks of people these days, but if you’re in a position to help and you enjoy the music, do what you can,” Catherine says.

“Local musicians tell local stories and we need those,” Ben adds. “They’re giving a lot to us, so if you can, give something back to them.”

For updates on the Live! At The Barn series, keep an eye on Andy’s YouTube channel.

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