Broadway fiddler, partner create TuneSupply to keep playing during COVID pandemic

When Broadway shut down in March, hundreds of musician found themselves out of work -- along with everyone else involved with dozens of shows.

The musical "Come From Away" went dark in the midst of a long run, but one fiddler has kept the music playing.

Caitlin Warbelow, originally from Alaska, arrived on Broadway three years ago. She discovered that when you "Come From Away" to stay, and one day they say "you can't play," that doesn't mean you have to stop making music.

Warbelow and her partner, Chris Ranney, moved online and recruited their pals for a series of sessions.

"To try and keep musicians working during this time when there's no live performance, but also to keep the community together," she said.

Those who play traditional American music are spread out far and wide.

"It's so important to play this style of music with others," guitarist Melinda Halford said.

She and her husband Rick hail from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, and they are just two of the musicians united on Tune Supply. Speaking on Session #40, Rick called the website, "a saving grace during this pandemic craziness."

"You have saved us," Melinda told Warbelow and Ranney.

For a fee of $32, the musicians will supply a tune just for you.

"You can send a birthday present to your friend and have some Irish musicians play them some tunes," Warbelow said. "Basically you can say, 'Play my friend Carrie a few tunes for her birthday,' and then they talk to Carrie and say some nice things and then play some tunes."

Warbelow is back home in her native Alaska, now performing just for fun -- and sometimes for nobody at all -- but she does miss the magic of live performing.

"There's a vibe that you can't recreate," she said. "Even if you have a million YouTube people watching you, you can't recreate that."

Warbelow and Ranney are looking forward to getting back together with their friends to play at Maryos on Avenue A in Manhattan. In the meantime, the resourceful performers are generating money for out-of-work musicians and offering virtual lessons to students looking to improve their playing.

For more information, visit Tune.Supply.
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