For the most part, our planet is still hunkered down. For better or for worse, certain states are starting to slowly try to get back to normal. But, performing arts venues of all sorts are the type of business that’s still on lockdown. Here’s part three of our feature on musicians and how they’re handling stay-at-home orders. Check out parts one and two if you haven’t.
1. What you have been doing with your time and to keep sane?
2. What are you listening to and reading?
3. Latest Netflix discovery?
4. What’s the one thing you could not do without right now?
5. Any local business or group you want to give a shout out to who has been doing something in your area to help during these times that you want people to be aware of and support?
6. Any thoughts you want to share with our readers?
Larry & Jenny Keel
1. It’s been really nice to spend unhurried time around our house and property, enjoying a spectacular Virginia spring. We’ve just been indulging in the things we usually only get to enjoy on the fly, squeezed in there between shows; gardening, going for hikes, cooking, reading, and deep contemplative time to rest and write and play music and watch shows and movies.
2. Larry’s reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and Jenny’s reading a variety of Eastern wisdom and Buddhist texts and also the novel City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert.
3. Nothing on Netflix currently, but elsewhere we like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Hunters, and Jack Ryan. From across the pond we like shows like Doc Martin, 800 Words from New Zealand, and Rake from Australia is awesome.
4. Each other! I say Larry, and Larry says Jenny! And our cat Lantzy!
5. Our local seamstress lady, Betty Wilson, is wonderful. She’s pretty much the only person who does sewing in our small town, so her work load is always super backlogged, but early on in this crisis she put her clients on hold and started sewing masks to donate to the hospitals and medical care providers in our region, using her own money and time to crank out hundreds of much-needed masks. She really was one of the first people to bring it to all our attention about how shocking the lack of basic medical supplies is for health care workers and the public in general. We ALL need to be wearing masks. Make your own if you can!
6. Watch Larry’s daily morning Instagram pick-me-up video. He really is so sincere in his wish that everyone stays calm and positive every step of the way through this time of anxiety and groundlessness. And just do all the things the CDC and WHO tell us to do to stop the spread of this virus. Other countries are proving that it’s doable, if we follow strict measures. We can overcome this!
Jay Blakesberg – photographer
1. I have been very fortunate that I have been busy non-stop for several years now. As freelance photographers that is not always the case. There have been many long stretches of slow work periods over the last 34 years that I have considered myself a professional photographer (I have been shooting 42 years). Because of this high energy stretch there have been many things that have had little time to give attention to. First up is just organizing and streamlining my office (clutter). There are a lot of things that need to be properly organized and archived that have fallen by the wayside. So I am organizing! Second there is the archive. A million or so shots taken on film, and another 1.5 million digital files! There is A LOT to do with this body of work. My brain is pretty typical of an artist with major ADD, so I find myself bouncing from project to project here in the studio. There are five book projects kicking around in my head. I self publish my own coffee table books through my publishing company Rock Out Books, so I am organizing these projects in my head as well as into folders. Three of them are my photographs exclusively, and two are books with multiple photographers. Typically this involves looking through tens of thousands of images per project. I am also project managing a coffee table book of Neal Casal’s photography. My daughter Ricki is editing the book which is currently in the design stage. There will be a kickstarter for that coming up soon. I am also digging through the film archives and finding things I want scanned so they are accessible digitally, and that is very time consuming. I also am putting together an online presentation about my career as a photographer – telling stories about specific shoots – that will broadcast live via the Relix Channel, and be in partnership with Bread and Roses, a music based non-profit here in the Bay Area. That should air in the next 2-3 weeks or so. Additionally I think I am going to put together an 8 part teaching series through a company called Skillshare. My son does video production/editing for this company and this generates some work for him (he and my daughter are both here in SF sheltering in place). About 15 years ago I did some weekend rock and roll photography workshops, so I am resurrecting that idea again to fill some time, and share some of the knowledge I have acquired as a photographer. Yeah, no shortage of projects, but almost zero client work which means zero revenue coming in!
2. Listening to all the usual stuff, and trying to catch bit’s and pieces of the gazillion web streams that are happening with all our favorite musicians. I am reading Carlos Santana’s autobiography! Love it!!
3. Of course on top of all this I am devouring the new season of Ozark, catching up on Season 2 of Westworld so I can dig into season 3, and getting closer to Tiger King!
4. I couldn’t do this without my family!
6. I know there are lots of people out there sheltering in place by themselves, so I am trying to reach out and talk to friends on the phone. These are scary times and I hope everyone is taking it very seriously because if we don’t flatten the curve none of us will be back to real work anytime soon, and that will make things worse and worse for everyone as isolation and financials become very pressing on people’s mental health, so we all need to look out for our people and get through this as fast as possible. Stay home!
Pappy Biondo – Cabinet
1. Ten days ago I decided to release a song a day for two weeks leading up to a full length release of an experimental solo project I started last summer. I have been making music by myself under the name King Zeek. I generated over twenty songs since and figured I’d make them available on a day to day basis. Besides that I am homeschooling my kids and occasionally making art.
2. I have been researching, revisiting and listening to music that I was around while growing up in Cleveland, Ohio. Shows that I attended as a teenager, seeing what all the local bands in my neighborhood are up to now and what they have released if anything. I am currently reading the draft of a spaghetti western novel that a friend shared with me. It is his first attempt at writing a book. I met him at our NYE show 2019 and we connected on Zane Grey. He just emailed me the draft last week. It’s called Jeb and the Kid.
3. That I have been paying for two separate accounts! Just cancelled the unnecessary one.
4. My wife and children. They are my drive to do good in this world.
5. John Morgan Kimock and myself started our own record label, Astrology Days Records. We have been steadily releasing music over the last week and continue to do so. A record label for the musicians musician.
6. There is good here. All we need to do is find it, any way, shape, or form. And when you do hold on tight. There is sunshine on the horizon and stars steadily burning bright. Got to get up, got to keep on movin’.
Cris Jacobs – Cris Jacobs Band
1. I’ve been spending lots of time with my family. I have two little girls and am away from home quite a bit, so I’m embracing the forced break to bank some good quality time with them. Also writing a bunch – journaling, poetry, songs. Just keeping the writing muscle engaged and active. Doing a live stream once a week (Tuesday’s at 8pm), which has been very therapeutic. Connecting with my fans and having a weekly “gig” has really helped me stay focused and grounded and reminded me that I do in fact have a music career, no matter what the world thinks right now.
2. Books I’m currently reading (often do more than one at a time), The Shell Collector by Anthony Doerr, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and Bird By Bird by Anne Lamont. Listening to lots music, depending on the setting. We listen to jazz when my daughter paints, lately lots of Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal, and Bill Frisell.
3.Tiger King (along with everyone else) and Crip Camp.
5. Mother’s and the 8×10. Two places that have supported myself and the community that are closed right now and have employees scrambling without paychecks. Please, buy gift certificates for future use and buy tickets to shows when this is all over.
6. Keep your spirits up. Try to exercise. Use this time to embrace the pause. We are always so non-stop in our ambitions that we forget to check in with ourselves and loved ones. Keep in touch with friends and family and see how they’re doing.
Chris Castino – Big Wu
1. I had a new record release that coincided with the social distancing implementation. So, I was forced to cancel my album release concert which was tough, but I’ve been able to do plenty of posting on social media to let people know about the record. The response has been great! Folks have time to sit and listen to a record and give it more of our usually compromised attention. Also, a musician here named Joe Scarpellino in the Twin Cities began a viral facebook group called The Facebook Live Cover Challenge. There’s almost 20k people in the group now. How it works: someone challenges you to play a certain cover song. If you accept and perform (live) the tune, you get to challenge another person. It’s been fun. I did a Doc Watson version of “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot. Otherwise I’m hoping to flesh out new material but two kids bouncing around our small house has made things tricky, but I’m actually very much enjoying all the family time!
2. Beyond listening to my musical community play cover songs in “The Challenge,” I’ve been playing records. I’ve got some older stuff that I’ve been spinning (Joy of Cooking by Peter, Paul, & Mary and Ry Cooder) as well as newer stuff (Trey – Ghost In the Forest, Bon Iver – I,I, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades – The Ode). I’m reading a book my mother gave me for Christmas called This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. It’s a novel about two young orphaned brothers growing up at a very strict State Indian School out in Western Minnesota in the 1920’s. I’m only a few chapters in but I think they’re fixing to escape!
3. That Little Ol’ Band From Texas
4. American Spirit Yellows (two per day max, I’ll have you know).
6. I’m taking this as an opportunity to pay attention to what it feels like to be without so much of the things that make up our routine. If I’m able to pay close attention I’ll notice which things I really don’t miss all that much. And perhaps, the removal of those things or activities actually makes my life less stressful, or makes me feel healthier, or more connected. It’s all just a unique opportunity to break a ton of habits in one fell swoop; to break up the pattern. It’s kind of like a low grade, extended acid trip; no visuals but a new perspective
John Bolten – Geraldine
1. Like most folks, Geraldine has had to quit practicing, but we are all working on different elements of our sound in our own way. In lieu of getting together for practice, we are sharing audio files and exchanging ideas over the phone. I continue to work a lot on songwriting and have taken this as an opportunity to explore new narratives through song. One song that just came into being is appropriately titled, ‘The Restless Years’ and is a reminder to “hold on to what I hold dear, so I can end these restless years.” I’m sure it was inspired by cabin fever.
2. One of the silver linings of the pandemic has been watching the community come together to create and support new avenues for staying connected and sharing music. I’ve watched live virtual shows from many Baltimore friends including The Honey Dewdrops, and Cris Jacobs, as well as rare glimpses into the living rooms of indie artists such as Ryan Adams, and tons of new artists I’m discovering through this ever expanding web social connectedness. My favorite discovery over the past couple weeks is a brilliant Spotify playlist by Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster (@jpkssongs) titled, “Shit you can fuck with anytime, as far as I’m concerned.” It is 15.5 hours of music and spans everything from old southern gospel, doo-wap, deep R&B cuts, reggae, obscure live jazz takes, and it is just littered with super groovy rock, old time blues and country, and punk. I’ve gone down the rabbit hole with this mix too many times to count.
4. Throughout the overnight crash of gigs, the required social distancing, and air of uncertainty and doubt, I’ve found myself using music as my one reliable crutch. I’m convinced that music and community are the mainstays for optimism, happiness, and hope. We really are all in this together. When we come to the other end, I believe that the music community and revamped camaraderie will be a vital part of retaining that connection and help get us back in the saddle.
5. Baltimore’s Creative Alliance has found a novel way of supporting musicians by creating Sidewalk Serenades, short three song performances from a safe distance. It’s an embodiment of community and a great example of what makes Baltimore a vibrant art hub.
6. Thank you for reaching out and helping give a voice to artists who are affected by a pandemic. Check out Geraldine’s album, Harvester and our new video, “A Hundred Hammers” on You Tube. More than ever, a like or follow on Instagram and Facebook help us connect with fans. We have a lot of things in the hopper! All Heart!
1. Practicing our instruments, rehearsing together and writing music.
2. A lot of social media live-streams from our friends and favorite bands
3. Fleabag, Parks & Recreation, learned how to have a Netflix Party
4. Our band mates and our instruments!
6. We just want to promote a message of kindness, sharing and caring during this trying time.
Jason Law – Festy GoNuts
1. We’ve been getting creative, and a little bit goofy! We (Festy GoNuts) started a Youtube show called “Festy from the Futon.” It’s going to be sort of like a variety show with news, artist interviews, and performances, and hopefully some comedy. We’re super new to the medium, and our first episode is pretty lo-tech, but we’re hoping to learn and improve. We certainly have the time. (Here’s the first episode: https://festygonuts.com/festy-from-the-futon-episode-1/)
2. I’ve been reading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff by Christopher Moore, while simultaneously reading The Tao of Pooh. They complement each other nicely. We just received the latest Danny Barnes album, Man On Fire, and we’ve been spinning that pretty consistently. The latest Jon Stickley Trio album, Scripting the Flip was just released, and I can’t get enough of that. On Spotify, Kellen Asebrook of Fruition started a public quarantine playlist that’s pretty fun!
3. On Netflix, I recently watched John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch. It’s incredibly funny and light-hearted – a feel-good show that we could all use right now. It also removes some of the guilt I have for enjoying Tiger King so much. On Amazon Prime, we’ve been rewatching 30 Rock and Flight of the Concords. Still amazing!
4. My yard. Seriously, it’s not big, but it’s mine, and it’s outdoors. I can’t imagine how difficult this is for people in crowded cities, in apartment buildings with no easy access to private outdoor space. Sitting on my deck, in a hammock, walking barefoot in the yard – these are saving graces.
5. I just want to give props to everyone working in the local grocery stores. That’s the only business I’ve visited in the last several weeks, and they’re doing an amazing job. On a related note – I went shopping the day after the facemask guidelines, and every customer in the store was wearing one. Go Boulder!
6. I am overwhelmed by the community response we are seeing in the music world. The way people are coming together to entertain one another, and support one another, is inspiring. The music community gives me hope that humanity will come out on the other side of this stronger, kinder and more appreciative than before. As Vince Herman says, “Love is gonna win again!”
H. Foley – comedian/ Host of Hard Feelings and Are you Garbage? Podcasts
1. As a Stand-Up Comedian, I was working steadily until the pandemic hit. So like a lot of comedians, I shifted focus to producing more online content. I host two podcasts with my partner, comedian Kevin Ryan. One is called “Hard Feelings” which we increased to a daily podcast. The other is an interview podcast called “Are You Garbage?” which we increased to two episodes a week and have seen growth in downloads immediately. Also, concentrating on more videos and posts on Instagram and Twitter; which helped us stay connected to our fanbase and keep a creative outlet. I couldn’t let the situation dictate my growth as an artist and I think this has made a difference. In short, I took a set back and turned it into an opportunity.
2. Great question. The one bright side of this is that it gives artists an opportunity to regroup and gives us time to learn from other artists and find new influences. For me, I’ve rediscovered my love for jazz and have had Miles Davis and John Coltrane playing constantly in the background. I have used their rhythm to construct material in a way that I hadn’t before. Being based out of New York City, jazz is a natural soundtrack to the lifestyle, and I’ve tried to tap into that.
3. My new guilty pleasure is an NBC show which has two seasons streaming on Netflix called Good Girls about three suburban housewives who turn to a life of crime. It comes off more like a gritty HBO show than a network primetime drama.
4. During this time, my girlfriend and I have taken the opportunity to improve our lifestyle and have been getting our main essentials at a local organic store in Astoria, Queens called Sai Organics.
5. Two things: number one, Facetime believe it or not. It gives us the opportunity to stay connected to our loved ones. Number two, the fanbase from my podcasts who give incredible feedback and seem to take comfort in the fact that we still are producing content which seems to be helping them through this time. Which every artist would say is the purest reason we do what we do.
6. I’ve really taken this time to reflect. The thought I keep coming back to the most is GRATEFULNESS. I’m grateful that we live in a technologically capable time where even though live shows have been cancelled, we can still connect with our audience and can continue to do our job as entertainers.
Erik Deutsch – Dixie Chicks, Leftover Salmon
1. I’ve been cooking, reading, practicing, composing, and recording. I finally started some all-synthesizer ambient recordings (which I’ve been meaning to do for a long time!). And vintage sports on youtube
2. I’ve been ripping through a lot of music—tons of vinyl, Prokofiev, Mendelsohn, Michael Hedges, Carla Bley, Keith Jarrett, Anoushka Shankar, John McLaughlin, Joe Pass, Dexter Gordon, Grant Green, Lou Donaldson have all been in the playlist. I’ve been reading Maximum Rock n Roll: The Ultimate Story of the World’s GreatestRock n Roll Band. (AC/DC!)
3. Tiger King (obviously)
4. So much bad news.
6. Stay strong, healthy, and positive! We’re going to get through this together and be a better society for it! Just think how great the concerts are going to be