If we remember anything about music in 2020, it will be how livestream concerts helped musicians and music lovers come to terms with COVID life. Local singer-songwriter and guitarist Travis Shallow has kept occupied (and sane) with his own “Shallow Chateau” streaming series every Wednesday and Saturday at 6 p.m. He originally started the roughly two-hour shows because he needed some structure during quarantine.
“At the beginning of quarantine, I was lost and spinning like most people,” Shallow says. “Days started to blend together with a lot of just walking from room to room, with no real direction, while consuming nauseating doses of the news cycle intermittently. I needed a schedule, bad, so I said, ‘Fine, let me figure out this streaming thing.’”
Outside of the occasional smartphone video here and there, Shallow admits having very little experience with video streaming. Paired with limited technology and know-how, he never thought to pursue it further—until it became a necessity. His live performances started dropping by mid-March, so he self-enrolled in “YouTube University” and started watching tutorials.
“If you’ve streamed before you know how deep of a well it is, with tech and bitrate and upload speeds, blah, blah, blah,” he quips, “and if you haven’t streamed before, be gentle on the people trying to get one up and running and sounding better for your enjoyment. It’s complicated, to say the least.”
Now 25 episodes deep, “Shallow Chateau” is archived on Shallow’s Youtube channel. Many episodes feature covers songs on Shallow’s mind, original tunes revisited as stripped-down acoustic numbers or duo sets with longtime friend Bob Russell.
“It’s funny to go back and see the first one, and how they have progressed and slowly become dialed-in, episode by episode, for a little better audio, a little better lighting, etc.,” he chuckles. “It’s like anything else musicians and artists do: try to grow and make whatever you’re doing better.”
Livestreaming support has been steady and generous, too. His fans have kept him confident to continue. Plus, seeing familiar names and reaching an even wider audience weekly has Shallow planning to keep some version of livestreaming going indefinitely. Just as well, merch celebrating it, like “Live from Shallow Chateau Quarantine Stream 2020” T-shirts, is coming soon.
That all said, Shallow and Russell do have a live show on the books, albeit a socially distant number at The Wilson Center’s Drive-In Concert on June 25 (tickets available here). While his full band, Deep End, is on hiatus right now, Shallow is releasing a new single, “Let It Pass,” on June 26.
He describes “Let It Pass” as an “acoustic stripped-down song by design,” which he wrote last year and recorded in late January 2020 with Portland, Oregon’s Cavity Search Records. They had reached out to Shallow to contribute to a compilation album featuring Cavity Search artists.
“I had just finished writing ‘Let It Pass’ so I sent them a demo of it,” Shallow remembers, “and they said ‘no need to send anything else, this is it.’ And that’s kind of all there was to it.”
Dubbed “Cavity Search 2020,” the label has been releasing singles off the album weekly. Shallow’s contribution drops on Friday and vinyl copies of the record will be available to buy on July 17 at www.TravisShallow.com and www.cavitysearchrecords.com.
With Bob Russell adding sonic layers with guitar, “Let It Pass” is about a friend of Shallow’s going through a hard divorce and ultimately accepting “this thing that was always there is now over.” “I could see her trying to hold onto something that was already long gone, and she was holding onto more of the idea of how it used to be instead of how it actually was,” he describes of his friend. “It’s like holding onto an electric fence, waiting for it to stop hurting you when all you have to do is let go. I’ve had to keep learning this lesson over and over, so I’m singing it to myself just as much as documenting her story.”
“Let It Pass” is the first official release to come out of Shallow’s home studio, where he finds himself comfortably and confidently writing, recording, mixing and mastering his music. Shallow’s been purposeful, too, in updating his equipment at home for studio-quality recordings.
“It’s a labor of love and you’re wearing a lot of hats,” he admits, “but when you get done and say, ‘very few hands have touched this,’ it’s a good feeling. But I still love going to other studios, especially analog studios and turning knobs, nothing replaces that.”