Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy!
So, how's your 2020?
If you are like me, you have days that feel like you are helplessly being pulled down by the undertow, and other days you feel like you are a viking that will vanquish 2020 as you run around in your underpants, wielding a guitar and shouting, "valhalla!" No? I thought that was normal by now.
If i can say it bluntly, its been an abysmal year for those of us whose lives revolve around music - from fans that make it a lifestyle, to those who have called it a livelihood. Most of us agree that the limbo is the worst of it. We want our family, our fellowship, and the kind of human connection that music provides in a way that there is no substitute. It's easy to get lost in negative thoughts, and the days feel overwhelming. I believe we need to allow ourselves to feel the loneliness, frustration, and grief. At the same time we can't allow those feelings to swallow us whole.
* If you'd rather look at pretty pics of our recent mini-tour in New York, scroll down.
Time for a Paradigm Shift
The only thing we can be certain of now is uncertainty. Its impossible to know where things will go from one day to the next and we need to accept that as our current reality. The more quickly we learn to adapt the better. I'm not saying we have to love it. But waiting around to live until things to return to normal is going to lead to a lot more misery. So let's make a paradigm shift.
No, we can't have shows with crowds packed in right now and sound that encompasses your being (or complaints about the rude person in front of you that ruined your experience). Lets start with a clean pallet. Music has not disappeared. What if there had never been stadium shows in the first place?
There is an opportunity to change our relationship with music and experience it in a more intimate way. Private events, smaller shows, stripped down performances filled with nuance are a special experience for artists and fans and are not "lesser than". They also bring a greater opportunity for fans to be involved with a venue or artist and have a real impact on their success and survival. They will not forget that. There is even, dare I say it, opportunity to help re-invent the independent music scene. Don't wait on someone else... People have the power.
Choose to ride out the storm and get more of the same. You'll have mainstream radio to keep you warm throughout the winter. You'll see some great acts on TV, primarily mainstream acts that have been around. At this point I hope each musician and music fan will remember all those bitch sessions they started on social media about why your favorite artists don't get the widespread recognition they deserve. Complacency is a vote.
Choose to support open venues and independent artists and you take control. Attend or host outdoor and alternative/distanced events if you are able. Maybe "its not your thing", but grass roots support today is going to help ensure your independent venues and artists are around once the dust settles. If you can't attend an event for health reasons don't discount the value of your moral support. If you are waiting for "real shows" to return to throw your support into the ring, well.... real musicians playing real music to pay their very real bills doesn't get any more "real."
Crawl out of that fetal position and help someone else. Get involved and don't lose hope. Host a watch party for an event on social media, start a support/social group for your peers online. Consider creating a covid pod, especially if you live alone. I guarantee that as you are sitting around feeling lonely someone else is, too. Bonfires with friends and fellow musicians has been my personal saving grace this year, even without the hugs. Winter months are going to be harder on everyone so try to check on a friend now and then.
If attending a live event isn't a possibility for you, subscribe to some music blogs, maybe create some playlists to share, see if you can remotely buy a friend a drink, buy some merch or order out from your favorite independent venue if they are offering food or drinks for carry out. Musicians, double down on creative ways to show your fans and peers appreciation. Many people are relying on you to bring some joy and distraction into their lives. It may literally seem like the end of our world, but it is not, and just because venues aren't open does not mean your talent is not in demand.
Double down... An army can move mountains, but it starts with one person. And one person can do amazing things. Please, remember you are important and we are all in this together. If I could personally kick covid in the ass I would. I may not be able to do that but together we can kick ass, love one another and get through this. For myself, I don't want to waste time or the opportunity to make some positive changes, and I demand nothing less than coming out of this mess a better person with greater appreciation for myself and those around me.
Sweep the leg,
New York Photos - I have to take a moment to thank our friends, old and new in New York. As well as venues closed and open. I have been so inspired this year through your kindness, resilience, and persistence. Kudos for being innovative and keeping the music going, and a ton of gratitude is in our hearts for everyone that saw us on our way. You all really gave us a big helping of hospitality we won't forget anytime soon. <3
We were in WNY at the perfect time to see fall colors. Special thanks to all the venues and private parties that booked us and to House Of Guitars for welcoming us and being bad ass as always. - Above Letchworth State Park