Barmah lockdown gig connects the world

By John Lewis

Coronavirus may have shut down their real-world gigs, but two Shepparton-born musos are now gathering a global audience livestreaming from Barmah.

When Sam Ludeman and Sam Russell decided to livestream songs on Facebook from their Barmah hideaway, they thought maybe friends and family would hook in for a listen.

But suddenly, comments came pouring in from across the globe.

“We were amazed and humbled,” Sam L said.

“We're fairly well known, but people were watching and commenting from across Australia and the world. The numbers were doubling every time we went live.”

Sam L said as the threat of coronavirus worsened, they decided to isolate in a family holiday home in Barmah because his partner is immuno-compromised.

“But the place is really small — we have to set things up and pack it all away for a livestream performance,” he said.

Easter Saturday's live two-hour Sam Sam Live in Lockdown session from Barmah was their sixth since they came up with the idea three weeks ago.

It racked up more than 49 000 views with about 1500 comments coming from places as scattered as Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Bangkok, Airlie Beach in Queensland and Sydney.

“People were linking up with others — friends and family — and forming connections and talking while we were performing. It was incredible,” Sam R said.

“I think it's because people across the world can't go out — and it's like watching a shared gig,” Sam L said.

They have now taken on the formidable task of sifting through hundreds of song suggestions from viewers and compiling a huge set-list for this weekend's gig.

“It's literally pages and pages of songs — but we like to mix it up and do different sets each week,” Sam R said.

Sam Ludeman and Sam Russell will be livestreaming songs from Barmah again this weekend.

The duo has performed together for nearly 20 years after meeting at after-school drama classes in Shepparton and through Shepparton Theatre Arts Group's iconic rock revues of the early 2000s.

Now 35, Sam and Sam's mix of tightly crafted and familiar cover tunes has seen them notch up a list of big Australian gigs including performing on the main stage at the Australian Open tennis championships, at Melbourne's Spring Racing Carnival, the Royal Melbourne Show and at various AFL events, including Richmond Football Club's Best and Fairest celebrations.

They have also taken their nine-piece band overseas and performed for five years at Kuala Lumpur's luxurious Shangri-La Hotel.

The coronavirus lockdown has seen all that disappear, but they remain undaunted.

“We want to keep ourselves busy and it's good to be able to offer something to people in these difficult times,” Sam L said.

He said with no income coming in, the pair had applied for government assistance packages.

“We'll be fine on that. When this is all done we want to say thanks to all our friends with a huge post-isolation party.

“If we can help recalibrate tourism in country Victoria then we will. This is all driven by the community.”

Meanwhile, they are planning this weekend's seventh livestream from Barmah.

“We've got two original songs in the set — and another one in the works. It's going to be fantastic,” Sam R said.

The Sam and Sam gig will be livestreamed on Friday and Saturday from 6 pm.

To watch, go to Sam Sam But Different on Facebook or www.samsambutdifferent.com