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From the vault: Concerts and music films to stream for free

Bill DeYoung



Billie Eilish performs on "Austin City Limits." Photo: PBS.

There aren’t too many silver linings in our current situation, to be sure, but numerous artists, arts organizations and production companies are opening the vaults and allowing music, theater and dance lovers to pass the time watching some incredible past performances.

Here are a few of the most notable “from the archives” music streams:

Austin City Limits has made available the past couple of seasons of live shows available for free here. This is an incredible potpourri of stuff – artists from Cage the Elephant, Tom Waits, St. Vincent, Billie Eilish and Father John Misty to the ACL 40th anniversary show with Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow, Jeff Bridges, Foo Fighters and others.

ACL, which airs on PBS, is the longest-running music series in television history.


Live at Montreux

The Montreux Jazz Festival, an eclectic concert series traditionally held every March in Switzerland, is making available more than 50 full concerts, going back as far as the 1970s.

This is a treasure trove, including amazing shows by a handful of artists no longer with us – including Nina Simone, James Brown, Johnny Cash, Lou Reed, Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye – and more contemporary performers such as Jack White’s Raconteurs, Alanis Morrisette, Wu-Tang Clan and Santana.

Like the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – rescheduled to “sometime in the fall” this year – the Montreux Jazz Festival is about so much more than jazz.

The free-streaming Montreux series, however, does include vintage performances by Chick Corea and a reunited Return to Forever, John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana, David Sanborn and other jazz notables.

Access the Montreux archives here.


Neil Young

Rock legend Neil Young has an extensive collection of audio and video on his expansive website, Neil Young Archives. Normally, there’s a subscription cost, but Young, who writes frequent letters on the site and answers questions from fans, has waved it (“Free to all during these times”).

Neil Young, “Fireside Sessions.”

Streaming video in the “Hearse Theatre” is switched out daily; today’s feature is a previously-unseen live performance from 1971, from a complete film he plans to release later this year, Young Shakespeare. The weekends are even more special – his weirdo 1972 opus Journey Through the Past was there on Saturday, and its equally strange followup Human Highway arrives Saturday, March 4. The next day brings the great 1979 concert movie Rust Never Sleeps.

Young has also made two Fireside Sessions videos, filmed in recent days by his wife, Daryl Hannah. He plays a cross-section of rarities on acoustic guitar, and piano, inside (and outside) their Colorado home.

Visit Neil Young Archives here.


Metropolitan Opera

The Metropolitan Opera is streaming 14 years’ worth of high-definition performance videos, of complete operas on its website (there’s also a Roku option). Each show is up for 24 hours, and this week is “Wagner Week”: Tristan un Isolde today, Das Rheingold Tuesday, Die Walkure Wednesday, et cetera.

These, of course, are full-scale productions at America’s premiere opera house, with all of the finest opera singers from around the country – and around the world.

Visit the Met in HD here.





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