Manitoba

When sidewalks become stages: A musical couple takes their show to the streets

In the wake of COVID-19 and the cancellation of in-person venue concerts, musicians Anne-Marie Williot and Ian Cherry perform sidewalk concerts in Winnipeg's West End.

Musicians Anne-Marie Williot and Ian Cherry perform post-COVID impromptu concerts in West End

In the wake of COVID-19 and the cancellation of in-person, venue concerts, musicians Anne-Marie Williot and Ian Cherry perform sidewalk concerts in Winnipeg West End. *Film by Tyler Funk, Carmen Ponto, Kevin Bacon, and Ian Bawa, for CBC Manitoba's Creator Network 3:31

Anne-Marie Williot was weeks away from releasing her new CD Cheval Géant when COVID-19 struck and the party — her CD release party — was over. 

So the singer-songwriter, along with her romantic partner and fellow musician Ian Cherry, pivoted. Instead of indoor music venues, clubs and cafés rocking with live audiences, sidewalks became stages. 

As soon as the snow was gone, the duo began performing impromptu concerts on the sidewalks of Winnipeg's West End.

Over spring and into summer, the duo have been spotted with accordian and marching baritone horn in hands, playing free sidewalk concerts.

Musicians Ian Cherry and Anne-Marie Williot have spent the last few months as strolling minstrels in Winnipeg's West End, giving sidewalk concerts throughout the neighbourhood. (Tyler Funk)

"We have been doing these little concerts because when COVID started, everyone was in their houses and all the concerts got cancelled, even our CD release got cancelled," Williot said.

"So we thought we should go play for people at their houses." 

"The sting of losing that opportunity [the CD release party], of losing that show, we needed a balm. This is the balm," Cherry said. 

Their pivot to sidewalk minstrels can be seen in this new short film by Winnipeg filmmakers Tyler Funk, Carmen Ponto, Kevin Bacon and Ian Bawa for CBC Manitoba's Creator Network.

The Creator Network works with storytellers — including filmmakers, writers, artists, photographers, illustrators, animators and other creative types — to tell stories through their own lens.

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