The year of Covid, 2020, wreaked havoc on small businesses/organizations. “Weathering the Storm” will profile local businesses in an attempt to celebrate survival and the promise of calmer seas on the horizon. We ask about the enormous challenges they faced, how businesses adapted, what the future holds, and ultimately how, as a community, we may help them rise above the tides.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Marblehead’s SOSS Records took its music outside outside and into the backyard

When the world as we knew it came to a halt in March of 2020, the outcome was tragic for SOSS Records—a company who built its reputation on Boston’s North Shore as true “disciples of live music.”

In the coming months, SOSS bore witness to the music industry’s suffering and great loss with not only aborted performances, events, and album release parties, but venues closing down, some permanently.

For a business that relies upon community connection, the outcome was “devastating” recalls SOSS co-founding member Leila Cavallaro.

What was hard to swallow was “not being able to bring smiles, laughter and dancing to our community by way of live music,” said Cavallaro. Even harder was not being able to help keep musicians performing and paid and venues full. The very notion of “staying relevant” became an insurmountable obstacle with dire consequences to the music community.

SOSS founders knew they had to respond creatively by finding new opportunities to not only keep the business afloat but to give musicians who were creating new music during COVID an outlet. Helping to fund recordings and promote the music were the baby steps that paved the way to bigger things: virtual music lessons led by a variety of musicians, live-streamed music via Facebook and YouTube, and ultimately the SOSS Backyard Music Series–safe, private, COVID-compliant live music presentations that quickly gained popularity with both artists and the community.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Marblehead’s SOSS Records took its music outside outside and into the backyard

“We created pods of 4 people with proper social distancing to safely present live music,” says Cavallaro. Local bands/musicians were thrilled with the idea of returning to their roots. Within months, word spread. SOSS had gathered world-class musicians and bands from New York to Vermont to perform for 25 to 50 guests, contingent upon private gathering restrictions at the time.

“Guests would bring a chair and a cooler and enjoy an intimate 3-hour show,” said Cavallaro.

To commemorate the new re-openings, (as of May 29th), SOSS is hosting SIN–Service Industry Night, at a private backyard in Salem on June 7th.

“We invited 15 restaurants that offer live music to send four people from their respective teams to enjoy a free live show at a private backyard,” says Cavallaro.

Jesse Ciarmataro and his band Wood and Bone volunteered to perform live in an effort to give thanks.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Marblehead’s SOSS Records took its music outside outside and into the backyard

“It’s about our community and staying connected through music,” says Cavallaro.  “It’s a way to show appreciation for all the hard work and a toast to survival,” she adds.

 The event promises free SOSS merchandise and a local keynote speaker who almost lost her battle with COVID.

Post-COVID, the SOSS Backyard Music Series will continue thanks to the request of musicians and local fans. Cavallaro reports the “go-to” for live music calendar is filling up fast:

“Send us a PM if you would like to attend one of our shows. Sponsor a backyard music series event and join us. We are all about getting the word out about local live music, the amazing musicians, hosting album release parties and promoting artists’ events,” said Cavallaro.

To support SOSS Records, join the live music community by following SOSS Records on Instagram and Facebook.

Originally published on, republished with permission.

SOSS Records learns to pivot during the pandemic
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