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Living on Music host/producer Steve Houk with longtime DC area musician Patty Reese (courtesy Z-TV)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – It’s been about five months since Z-TV’s Living On Music began it’s own “tour” of sorts every Monday night at 7 on Facebook Live, interviewing some of the DC region’s most respected musicians and musical forces as well a host of nationally and internationally known artists. They talk about their musical lives, their careers, their hopes and dreams, some of them even play a few songs live, all from the confines of their home basement, living room or studio.

And yes, like the entire Z-TV network, the timeline of the show’s launch to today does coincide with the exact course of the coronoavirus pandemic.

But so far, amidst the uncertainty of these times, Living On Music host and producer Steve Houk is truly ecstatic at not only how much fun the show has been to create and host, and how it has grown each week, but how it seems to literally save some musicians from sinking deeper into their own sense of loss and loneliness that has consumed many over these past few months

“Sure, I was elated to be able to host and produce a show right as the Z-TV network launched, where I could combine my lifelong passions of music and television producing,” says Houk, a three-time Emmy-winning television writer/producer/executive, who is also a well-respected music writer and lead singer for several local bands.

“But more importantly, it’s also been tremendously moving to have some musicians convey that we’ve not only helped them learn some virtual online presentation tactics – thanks to our pioneering executive producer David McClure – but we have given them some true joy and engagement when they needed it very badly.”

Host Steve Houk in his Burke VA studio interviews guest Cindy Blackman Santana from her home in Hawaii (courtesy Z-TV)

Houk harkens back to a couple artists who were really hurting and whose appearance on the show seemed to buoy their spirits, at least for the time being.

“One artist we had on was really down in the dumps before their appearance on the show, she had just spent $50,000 dollars on recording a new record and couldn’t tour on it or anything, and was feeling mighty low. But after she did the show, she truly thanked me for bringing her out of the doldrums and helping her to get back up and running, and she’s thrived since then. And that’s not the only positive feedback we’ve gotten, and from some of the area’s most respected musical mavens. It’s always a great thing to know we’ve helped someone.”

Houk laughs it up with Living On Music guest Bill Starks. (courtesy Z-TV)

Obviously, Houk and his Z-TV colleagues would rather have launched the network apart from a global pandemic. But ironically, because the virtual world has become so integral to all of their guests’ ability to stay engaged and playing and talking, Living On Music has become a sought-after venue of its own, where they can not only get more acclimated to virtual engagement, but they just feel happy to show people they are still alive and kicking, and getting ready for when this goes away and they can play out in local venues again. And Houk makes it clear every week that it’s not only musicians who are ailing, but so many local venues across the region and the country are also hurting bigtime.

“It’s not only the artists that are suffering but so are so many local venues across this region and the world in dire straits. That’s why on nearly every show I have done since the show’s launch, I promote NIVA, the National Independent Venue Association, and its #saveourstages initiative (https://www.nivassoc.org/) which is vigorously behind an effort by several congresspeople to pass a bill which will provide funds to these venues so they can stay open. It’s a tall order and not a guarantee, but NIVA has been relentless in promoting this effort. In June, 90% of NIVA’s venues said that if they didn’t get some federal funding support soon, they would close permanently. It’s now October, and the situation for many is even more dire. That’s why everyone needs to support #saveourstages, as well as all of the local musicians.”

Nationally known singer/songwriter/guitarist Ali Handal on Living on Music (courtesy Z-TV)

Houk feels both massive joy to be getting to spend time with some exceptional musicians, some of whom are his friends from various musical endeavors, but also a palpable sense of responsibility to keep these artists’ names, faces and music out there so once things subside, they can jump back into the mix where they were before it all hit.

“That’s why we’re here, for now, to not only have a blast talking music and playing music and all that, but to also be a conduit for these amazing musicians and people to remain involved with their fans and followers, both old and new. It’s really all about everyone living on music to survive.”

Catch Z-TV every Monday at 7 pm by going to The Zebra Press Facebook page just before 7, and also see all of the past Living On Music shows there by scrolling down and finding the shows: https://www.facebook.com/TheZebraPress/live_videos/?ref=page_internal


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