WESTERLY — Inspiration struck Chris Walsh one afternoon last week as he was pondering the extraordinary ways the world has changed in these days of COVID-19.
“I was sitting at home thinking about how bored everyone was going to get,” said Walsh, a photographer and videographer who had a thriving wedding photography business until the pandemic’s arrival brought life to a halt.
“Then I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to have an online talent show where people could sing or dance and share their talents?” said Walsh, who is hunkered down at home with his wife, Kathleen, and their 11-year-old twins, Robert and Nicolina. “Especially with the kids at home.”
“I’m trying to focus on happy things, even though I’m losing work and my wife and I will begin homeschooling Monday morning,” Walsh said.
So Walsh went to Facebook and created a page, then posted a message which said:
“In this crazy world we live in, we sometimes need a little relief! While everyone is home and bored, we’ve started a page for everyone to share their talent! Are you a Musician? Singer? Dancer? Comedian? Show us your stuff!”
In a matter of minutes, Walsh attracted the attention of a number of interested Facebookers. Although he had a slight glitch at the beginning — he had to switch from a “Facebook Page” to a “Facebook Group” and name it “The Westerly Talent Show Group — his invitation gained interest.
One of the first posts came from musician Eric Nicolas, who posted a video of his daughter at the piano.
“Cassiopeia, age 9, workin’ out on ‘Sonatina Op. 36, No. 1’ by Muzio Clementi. (Or as we call it, The Quarantina.)” Nicolas posted.
Soon after, a video of Nicolas playing playing guitar and singing appeared along with his post; “Here’s a song I wrote for my kids: ‘Bike Ride’ — hope it brings you a bit of cheer!”
“It’s perfect for these times,” said Walsh, who soon after added a video of well-known local musician Michael Campbell playing original music with photos of local landmarks in the background.
“Westerly’s own Michael Campbell on the keyboard with some of his local photos!” Walsh posted.
Soon after appeared a video of pianist James Whitney playing his original “Coronavirus Blues.”
Then came a video from Mary Audette who wrote in a post: “This Irish set is performed by me on flute, piccolo, and bazouki; Priscilla Malone in bodrahn and guitar; Ev Brown on button box accordion; Tim Reilly bodrahn, and Jon Cannon on fiddle.”
Then came photos and other little surprises, said Walsh.
“I even had someone post something she made from toilet paper rolls called ‘Role Models,’” said Walsh with a chuckle. “Why not? All talents can be shared.”
Noted Westerly photographer Josh Behan posted some of his photographs featuring sunsets, waves and sail boats while Tina Holden-Shea posted a collection of photos featuring clouds and a darkening sky and titled them, “Front Moving in, Wyoming, RR.”
“Here are some ocean related photos, some local, some not,” Behan posted. “Very cool seeing what others are doing.of Thanks for doing this, Chris.”
Walsh said he welcomes all forms of talent, art and expression, which of course, includes food.
Beginning this week, he said, his friend Dave Miguel, a chef, will begin a series of short videos for “people stuck [at] home wondering what to make” for dinner.
“The one that we’re uploading tonight is for chicken tenders,” said Walsh, noting that recipes will also be included.
Walsh said thus far the feedback has been positive, encouraging “well-received.”
On Sunday afternoon, Walsh added an “LOL” to the most recent post to the Westerly Talent Show Group, an original blues tune called “Wash Your Hands.”
To post your talent or see the talents of others, visit facebook.com/groups/westlerlytalent.