Check Your Tone

The show goes on

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

“What the heck is this?”

I looked at the phone that was being thrust into my face and said, “That looks like Proud Failures streaming a show.”

“I know that, but what the heck is this?”

I guess more of an explanation was in order.

While we’ve all been lamenting the loss of live shows and talking about how much we miss live shows and worrying about our music venues and industry folks and contacting our elected officials to pressure them to pass one of the bills that could provide necessary financial relief (you’ve been doing that, right? Right?), True Tone Audio has been mobilizing in the name of quality live entertainment.

To back up a bit, under normal circumstances, True Tone Audio would be in their busy season, hauling their high-end sound, lighting and production equipment from one live event to the next, loading in and loading out in a seemingly endless seasonal cycle.

With no events to set up and support, no sound to run, no lighting to calibrate, True Tone found itself with an empty calendar, an abundance of premium equipment and expertise, and nothing to do with any of it.

So True Tone owner Steve Wood decided to give himself something to do.

And that’s how the Live at True Tone Studios concert series was born. And that’s how a Proud Failures concert came to show up in my living room.

The concerts aren’t a brand new phenomenon—Wood’s been staging them almost since the lockdown began, and he’s got shows scheduled through mid-November at this point, with more no doubt to come.

Livestreaming is hardly unique to Wood and True Tone around these parts. Everyone’s doing it. Our local musicians, ever industrious, have shown themselves to be able to adapt to the changing circumstances brought about by COVID-19 and willing to harness new technologies in order to keep making music any way they can.

But what is unique to True Tone—at least around here—is the production value Wood brings the concerts. We’re used to seeing people broadcast from backyards and backrooms. Wood breaks out the full True Tone setup for every show—professional sound, lights and staging—and it easily the closest you’ll come to going to a local show without actually being able to go to a local show.

And not only are the concerts professionally staged, but they’re also plentiful as well. Each show begins at 6pm and they happen with astonishing frequency, sometimes on a near-daily basis. In the coming days, you can tune in to see Sam Halbert and Friends (Sept. 9), Grin and Barrett featuring Grimble Grumble (Sept. 10), JP Falcon and Friends featuring Len Beckett (Sept. 11), Cascadia Groove (Sept. 13), Misty Flowers (Sept. 16), Free Harmony (Sept. 17), the Walrus (Sept. 18), Pacific Twang (Sept. 19), and JP Falcon and Friends featuring Dave “Tarzan” Donahue (Sept. 23) before the October concert calendar takes over. However, given the gaps at the end of September, I have no doubt Wood will find a way to shoehorn in even more shows if he can.

While watching the concerts is free, Wood isn’t doing this entirely out of a sense of boredom and the kindness of his heart. He asks for a modest donation of at least $5 (or more—hint hint) if you enjoy the fruits of his considerable labor, donations that can be made via He’s quick to stress that his business is just that—a business, meaning your donations while vital to his survival, are not tax-deductible the way a donation to a nonprofit would be. But for those of us used to throwing down a fiver at the door, that’s a distinction without much of a difference. Paying for shows is what we do. You may not get that tax break you probably wouldn’t end up taking anyway, but your donation gets you a shout-out in the credits of an upcoming show and given our collective lack of a social life these days, we can use all the extra attention we can get.

In the explanation on his website of what he’s up to with staging the concerts, Woods makes no bones about the tough spot True Tone Audio is in. “We’re all working for free in hopes we can lose money slowly enough to still be in business when concerts and festivals can happen again.”

For concert calendar, donation information and all other pertinent details, see

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Past Columns
A Make.Shift Memo

September 16, 2020

Live From the Park

September 2, 2020

Pandemic Priorities

August 19, 2020

Of Falafel and the Future

August 5, 2020

Reign of Payne Returns

July 22, 2020

It’s Tinga Time!

July 8, 2020

A Trickle of Tunes

June 24, 2020

One Strange Summer

June 10, 2020

COVID Chronicles

May 27, 2020

Pandemic Problems

May 13, 2020

A Bummer Summer

April 29, 2020

My Pandemic Diary

April 7, 2020

We’re Baaaaack

April 1, 2020

Strange Days

March 25, 2020

Making it through

March 18, 2020

Pandemic Panic

March 11, 2020

You’ve got mail

March 4, 2020

Of bongos and backwards balls

February 26, 2020

Drink it up

February 19, 2020

Apologies in Advance

February 12, 2020