March 2020: The Times They Are Most Definitely Changin’
Well, here we are. The COVID19 virus has caused an interruption in lifestyle like no other moment in memory. Being that this is a music blog, we will only focus on the musical side of all this. That is not to trivialize or minimize the severity and alarming nature of all that is coming our way. It is a monumental and historic moment. Seemingly every hour brings bleaker news and more restrictions. The days after 9/11 comes closest in scope within my memory, but that was a different time and different threat. We were still able to congregate and revel our way through the sadness and uncertainty.
It’s unclear when that moment will again arrive for us all. Last week, that seemed like a silly notion. It’s not so silly now with the CDC recommending no gatherings with more than 50 people and estimates for the length of the social distancing quarantine growing from 2 weeks to 2 months to in some estimates 6 months. Again, looking only at the music side of this, that is catastrophic for the livelihoods of so many. Artists, crew, venue owners, bartenders, production folks. They’re all being taken off the job without the aid of salary, paid time off, the ability to work from home and the like. The bigger names should be able to make it through unscathed. But, the vast majority of working musicians and those associated with them are hurting with no easy solutions in sight.
Those men and women that find themselves in that position of watching their lifeblood taken away with no options are looking for work. They are hurting. They are confused. They are experiencing the emotions we are all feeling, but in some realms they are feeling it so much harder. What they love to do. What they have done. What God gave them the talent to do for a living. It has been removed on all levels for an undetermined amount of time. The uncertainty and unease is the most gripping part of this piece of the Corona puzzle.
As John Baumann remarked in an Instagram post, he feels it would be socially irresponsible to play a gig right now, so where does that leave us with the notion of helping these guys and gals out? Well, the easiest way is to buy merch directly from them. If you can spare a few bucks during this time of need, buying some vinyl and a t-shirt does more than you can imagine for your favorite artists. Also, a trend we foresee gaining an uptick is the online concert with virtual tipjar. Courtney Patton and Jason Eady, as well as Bruce Robison, Scott Davis and Gordy Quist hosted one yesterday. And William Clark Green went live on Instagram with friends. As of this publishing, Drew Kennedy has one planned for this evening. It will feel strange at first, but this is the best way to see your favorite music for at least the near future. Pay your cover charge via PayPal or Venmo straight to the artist, then send them tips in the same manner. Think of the benefits. The ultimate case of BYOB, plus the closest, cleanest bathrooms imaginable. And in most cases, no annoying people talking through the songs.
Look, things are going to be weird for a while. And watching concerts through screens instead of at the bar is going to be an adjustment. But, right now it’s a lemonade out of lemons situation. We’re all in this together and we’re going to figure it out. Love one another.
-What are y’all binging while we’re all on lockdown?
-Being without live music is one thing. Living without sports is proving as difficult of a thing to adjust to. About to start wagering on the kids’ MarioKart races.
-I’ve found a great way to pass these days is by reading. I’ve been re-reading books I’ve enjoyed in the past and picking up new ones that have been recommended to me recently. What are you reading?
-It’s also been a good time to go into yardwork, work out in the garage mode. How else are you passing the time?
-I was scheduled to be at the big Chris Stapleton/Willie Nelson show at the new Globe Life Park in Arlington last weekend. I was excited about checking out the new ballpark as I was the concert.
-This month’s recommended album: Gabe Lee – Honky Tonk Hell. As the name implies, there is plenty of tonkin’ going on, but with plenty of twangy southern rock swag. Lee’s unique background and approach to country music make this one of the most enjoyable and fresh sounds in years.
-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain