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‘The Catalyst Sessions’ returns today with program No. 102

Bill DeYoung

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When the first Covid-19 shutdowns began, in mid-March, it wasn’t difficult to imagine the strain our arts community was going to have to endure. No gatherings allowed, therefore no audiences. No audiences, no shows. No shows, no income.

We envisioned The Catalyst Sessions, our video interview series, as a sort of a Person to Person for St. Petersburg. Artists, actors and authors would be sitting at home, just like everybody else, out of touch and probably out of sorts, eager for a little communication, albeit of the electronic variety.

Starting on Wednesday, March 25, we provided that line of communication. One 30 minute interview per weeknight, five days a week, just to check in, say hi, and to chat about whatever needed to be chatted about. We got some bitching, and a bit of moaning, but for the most part people just seemed to want to stay connected.

In those early days, we thought it might go on for a month, maybe two, then things would slowly start to revert to normal and The Catalyst Sessions, having served its temporary purpose, would wind down.

On Aug. 21, we streamed our 101st episode, with musicians Ken Block and Andrew Copeland.

There is, of course, no end in sight.

After a week off to recharge, The Catalyst Sessions returns today – Monday, Aug. 31 – with show number 102. The guests are Heather and Dave Hamar, who are opening a performance studio space (The Mar) Tuesday on Central Avenue.

The programs have evolved over these five-plus months. For one thing, we stopped streaming them live after a while; it’s just easier for all concerned to record the interviews earlier on show days (Zoom seems to behave better earlier in the day, too).

Musicians sometimes sing and play; artists discuss the act of creation. Museum directors describe their dreams and visions for blending art and commerce.

Sometimes, just to shake things up, we’ve had folks on who don’t really have anything to do with the arts scene in Tampa Bay (we’re looking at you, Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell). But they sure were fun and informative interviews.

The whole collection is archived on the St. Pete Catalyst YouTube Channel, from the earliest episodes with technical snafus aplenty, plus the occasional bad lighting or cheesy backdrops, and your host’s ever-changing Covid-era haircut.

How long will The Catalyst Sessions go on? As long as necessary. As long as we’re all in our separate rooms, we’ll come together in a virtual room to talk about the arts, and about St. Pete, and about how we’re all coping in this scary and terribly arts-challenged time.

The guest list

March: Paul Wilborn & Eugenie Bondurant, Matthew McGee, Craig Pittman, Karla Hartley.

April: Kasondra Rose, Nate Najar & Daniela Soledade, Stephanie Gularte, Jeremy Douglass & Rebecca Zapen, Mark Sforzini, Barbara St. Clair, Carrie Jadus, Alex Harris, Michael Francis, Giles Davies, Maureen McDole, Pete Merrigan, Becca McCoy, Jeff Klinkenberg, Liz Dimmitt, Rebekah Pulley & Rob Pastore, David Jenkins, Hank Hine & Laura Hine, Bob Devin Jones, Sarah Nordin & Tyler Putnam.

May: Chris Crawford, Colleen Cherry, Tony Tyler, La Lucha, Helen Hansen French, Cindy Stovall, Roxanne Fay, Jane Buckman, Derek Donnelly, Kristen Shepherd, Bob Hite, John Collins, Alsace Walentine, Kevin Chadwick, Ronny Elliot; Paul Wilborn & Eugenie Bondurant, Kelli Butler, Eric Davis, Mark Aeling.

June: Roy Peter Clark, Andee Scott & Amelia Sieradski, Emilia Sargent, Alison Burns, Ray Roa, Tiffany Razzano, Kristin Clippard, Brenda McMahon, Karla Hartley, Greg Billings & George Harris, Cyndi Edwards, Chad Mize, Kasondra Rose, Lisa Unger, David Jenkins, Mountain Holler, Katrina Stevenson, Duncan McClellan, Roger Bartlett, Mike Deeson, Matthew McGee, Susan Hellman Spatafora.

July: Jerid Fox, Staci Sabarsky, Andi Matheny, Lisa Kirchner, Jeremy Douglass, Ronnie Dee, Hank Hine, Craig Pittman, Rodney Crowell, Howayda Affan, Alex Jones, Colette Bancroft, Veronica Leone Matthews, Katie Talbert, Roy Peter Clark, Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, Maureen McDole, Vince Gill, Mark Sforzini, Lori Roy.

August: Lisa Marone, Bob Devin Jones, John Capouya, L. Peter Callender & Sheila Cowley, Michael Connelly, Rebekah Pulley and Rob Pastore, Rui Farias, Sarah Gerard, Nate Najar & Daniela Soledade, Will Thomas Scecina & Dave Hamar, Mark Cantrell, Jenee Priebe, Tom Gribbin, Ephraim Sykes, Ken Block & Andrew Copeland.

Show No. 101:

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