Music Performance Trust Fund finances virtual concerts

Local musicians are teaming up with others across the United States and Canada to grab a lifeline that is the Music Performance Trust Fund. Guitarist Brian Murphy and bassist Jeff Ruzich, both from Norwich, are proof of that.

The duo had MPTF concerts in February and March.

“They’re wonderfully unique, in that they’re online, performed live in front of video cameras, with no live audience, but potentially a boon of new connections and fans,” Murphy said.

Both of the duo’s concerts were filmed live at the Dunderburg Gallery in Gilbertsville, owned by Marcus Villagran who agreed to be an MPTF “co-sponsor” and venue host. The MPTF pays the co-sponsor directly for the concert musician and sound engineer fees, and then the co-sponsor in turn pays the musicians directly.

“This is by far the most I’ve ever been paid for a gig,” Murphy said.

Murphy and Ruzich have been a duo since 2014 and have mostly played a mix of original Murphy compositions, classic rock and seasonal nursing home favorites ever since. Until March 2020, when the pandemic shut everything down, the couple performed monthly at four nursing homes — two in Chenango County and two in Otsego County.

The MPTF is a wonderful source of emotional and financial support for any musician who belongs to the American or Canadian Federation of Musicians. Union members work with their respective chapter’s MPTF administrators, usually the presidents, who make all arrangements with MPTF, the AFM, venue and co-sponsor for these concerts.

AFM Local 443 President Ruth Berry of Hamilton secured funding and contractual arrangements for Murphy and Ruzich, who remain interested in hosting future MPTF concerts. But no concert is available for April for the duo, as Berry is busy getting more local members to participate in their own MPTF concert. She picked Murphy and Ruzich for the first-ever MPTF gig for Local 443.

John Colonna, a professor at Hartwick College, and his girlfriend Claytie Czapski provided sound, lighting and video services for Murphy and Ruzich. Colonna is an established musician in his own right – a renowned pianist and musical director who regularly performs a wide variety of jazz and other genre material at the gallery.

“They did a great job; the sound mixing was phenomenal,” Murphy said.

Upcoming MPTF live streams of AFM Local 443 members from the Dunderberg Gallery include:

April 15 at 8 p.m.: Violinist Fritz Krakowski and pianist John Colonna.

April 21 at 7 p.m.: Sherburne native Lauren Mettler performs her original songs.

April 24 at 6 p.m.: Jazz trio with singer Jeanine Ouderkirk, bassist Evan Jagels and pianist John Colonna.

April 28 at 6 p.m.: Duo Intermezzo featuring Hamilton cellist Ruth Berry and pianist John Colonna.

Music fans can only view MPTF concerts by first sending a request to follow the Music Performance Trust Fund’s Facebook page. Once they subscribe, they will receive notifications of all concerts across America and Canada on the site, which averages about one or more per day.

Notifications give descriptions of backgrounds and music style. Then viewers can simply click on the notification when the concert is about to start and the concert is streamed live to their device. It is easy and free.

For more information on Murphy and Ruzich, email or find Brian Murphy on Facebook.