P.E.I. singer-songwriter Rachel Beck is offering to trade her CDs and merchandise for, well, just about anything.
So far, she has exchanged copies of her new album, Stronger Than You Know, for home-made biscuits and strawberry jam, P.E.I.-roasted coffee, and artwork.
Beck, a mother of three from Stratford, had made the decision to leave her day job and give music a shot. She was in the middle of a Canadian tour to promote her second album — along with her band and a trunk-load of merchandise including CDs, T-shirts, tote bags and jewellery — when COVID-19 hit, shutting down music venues.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed with just the reach that [the album] has gotten,” she told Mainstreet P.E.I. host Matt Rainnie. “You know, all the behind-the-scenes numbers and things, they’re probably not what they would have been had I been able to tour the album.
“But I sure do appreciate all the people who have reached out, who have been streaming the songs and watching the videos.”
Beck said she was recently buying espresso beans from her favourite local coffee-roaster, Brett Bunston at Caledonia House Coffee at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market, when Bunston asked her if she’d like to trade them for a copy of her CD.
She loved the idea, and last week she decided to post an offer on her Facebook page. So far, she has traded with 10 people from around the Maritimes, both friends and strangers.
“It’s been so much fun!” Beck said. “I’ve already received a beautiful, beautiful piece of collage art from Monica Lacey, made just for me.”
She’s so far received the aforementioned biscuits and jam, several boxes of fresh P.E.I. strawberries, garden greens and CDs from other musicians. She is especially looking forward to this trade: a lesson in reiki energy healing.
“I hope people will keep reaching out with whatever skill or something they’ve made, something they’ve grown in their garden. It brings me a lot of joy to share my music and to have these beautiful gifts coming back my way in return,” she said.
‘Getting more out of it’
Because many people may be out of work or fearing layoffs due to the pandemic, Beck said she realizes they may not have the cash to purchase a CD. But most people have something they can trade.
“This has been really wonderful, honestly,” she said. “I think I’m getting more out of it than the people who are trading with me!”
Beck is set to take the stage next weekend for her first live in-person concert since the lockdown began in March. She will play two shows next Thursday and Friday at The Trailside at the Holman Grand Hotel in Charlottetown, to an audience of no more than 50 people — that’s the venue maximum under pandemic restrictions.
She will play on stage with cellist Natalie Williams Calhoun for a “stripped-back, acoustic feel,” Beck said.
She will also play with a full band as part of the Cavendish Beach Drive-In Concert Series July 25 with Two Hours Traffic, Logan Richard, Vince the Messenger and Kinley.
Upcoming plans ‘month-by-month’
The Western Canadian portion of Beck’s tour was cancelled, along with a jam-packed schedule of summer festivals and now, all her fall concert bookings too. She predicts venues will not be booking entertainment this winter or spring either. So what’s a musician to do?
She said she is planning some digital ventures, and is working on acoustic versions of some of her songs.
“Have to kind of go month-by-month and see what’s happening with the rest of the world,” she said.