by Lorie Lewis Ham
The pandemic has brought us many new ways of enjoying entertainment that we may not have been familiar with before 2020—Zoom shows, StageIt online concerts, online conferences, Virtual Rogue Festival, Facebook Live book launches, and more. The creativity and resilience of performers, both local and around the world, has not only been amazing but inspiring. Fresno musician Tony Imperatrice not only has performed online concerts, but he has also started his own YouTube show called Other Stages. We chatted with him this week to learn more.
KRL: What inspired you to start your new YouTube show Other Stages?
Tony: If you ask a random person, “What comes to mind when I say performing artist” They will ether point to a big time music star or Hollywood actor or to the person busking on a street corner. Well, there is a whole great big world in between and that is what I wanted to give voice to.
KRL: When did it begin?
Tony: In April 2020, an old college mate of mine, Paul Aleman, created a Facebook page called “Quarantined Concerts” as a platform for musicians to perform online. I had been furloughed from both of my churches and I wasn’t going back any time soon. I jumped all in and started performing every Sunday at 11 a.m. Pacific Time. At first, I relied heavily on the hymns and other music I had been playing in church but quickly branched out into the classical repertoire and some of my original compositions. Playing a full hour of music every Sunday, I was running out of pieces very fast. So, I started incorporating my storytelling. At that point my Sunday concerts became more like my stage shows where I tell stories and play appropriate music. Toward the end of 2020, I started having a guest interview as part of my Sunday broadcast. It was at this point that I decided to formalize my regular show as a weekly video podcast.
KRL: What is the format of your show?
Tony: The elements of my show are music, stories, and guest interview. Each week I start with a “teaser” introduction followed by a music selection, then the guest interview followed by more music, then I tell a story from my life that is in some way related to the discussion with my guest. One final piece of music and we are done. The show runs about 50 minutes.
KRL: Who have you interviewed and do you plan to be interviewing?
Tony: The message of my show is this, fallowing your passion is worth doing whether it’s going to be a hobby, a part time avocation or a full time career. There are many more avenues available for fallowing your dream then most people are aware of so, my guest range from amateur actors, to local composers and song writers to influential entertainers. I have had film composer Matthew David Wheeler, songwriter Blake Johns, Actors Valerie Munoz and John Masier, and electronic music pioneer Don Lewis. In an upcoming episode, I will have San Francisco music innovator P.C. Munoz. Anyone who is a performing artist or works in the entertainment business that is not a Hollywood “big wig” is an ideal guest for my show.
KRL: Is it all local entertainment?
Tony: Most of my guests have been local and that will remain the case. For sure, I want to promote the local scene, but I think it is important to see what is happening in other parts of the world.
KRL: What are your goals with this show?
Tony: I want my show to be a hub for the performing arts community. I want my guests to have a platform to promote their efforts on but, also have the opportunity to share their experience so that others might find their way to their other stage. Business wise I would like to get more sponsors and I would like the show to be picked up by a podcast distributor.
KRL: I see you have had a YouTube channel since 2012, what else do you post on your channel?
Tony: I’m all about the organ. It is my musical instrument of choice and my full time obsession. I also compose new music for the organ and I am an organ history buff as well as a repair technician. My YouTube channel, first and foremost, features my video podcast Other Stages but you can also find videos of me playing the organ and I am currently producing a series on electronic organ technology.
KRL: For those who are not familiar with your work, please tell us a little about your music—what you play, what type of music you perform, where you performed pre Covid, how long you have been playing?
Tony: I started with piano lessons at 5 years old; my parent’s wanted me to be a classical pianist. I discovered the organ when I was 13 at a Fresno restaurant called “Pizza & Pipes” I was hooked and my first professional music job was for the Fresno Falcons hockey team playing the organ at Selland arena for local games, I was 16. Like most organists, I found my way to church and have mostly played services and concerts there. After the pandemic is over, I doubt that I will be returning to church I want to perform my original music in person. When I’m not working on Other Stages I’m working on preparations for live in person concerts. These include studio recordings and custom instruments that I’m working on at home.
KRL: When and where can people find your show, and how often do you post a new episode?
Tony: Other Stages runs every Sunday at 11 a.m. Pacific Time on YouTube live. I also post it on all my social media, Patreon, Facebook and my website. Plus all episodes remain on my YouTube channel.
KRL: Do you know what guests you have coming up in the next few weeks?
Tony: On April 4 we will talk with jazz musician Benjamin Boone and on April 11 we will meet San Francisco music innovator P.C. Munoz.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Tony: The pandemic has taught us to celebrate creativity in new ways. After this is over I think online performance will continue. Yes, I can’t wait to get out of the house and see a play, some comedy, or a musician live and in person. At the same time, online performances have opened up the possibilities of reaching a bigger audience. Some of what we are doing to “get by” during the pandemic will become an integral part of our future performance activity.
Check out Other Stages, and keep up with all of the entertainment Tony has coming up in the future by following him online:
Get exclusive content on Patreon
Subscribe to his YouTube Channel
Connect with him on Facebook
Visit his website
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors–many of whom you will have seen on local stages. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts, and also on Podbean.
Check out more local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.