By now, a lot of us are getting used to telework or hunkering down at home. If you have decent Internet bandwidth, there is a lot of diversion between Amazon, Netflix, and a multitude of music streaming opportunities. It’s easy to binge-watch an entire season of the excellent cop show Bosch, but that takes focus, and when I’m teleworking or cleaning the kitchen, that’s not possible. I have put together several playlists that give me an ongoing soundtrack throughout the day with some of my favorite music. Once the playlist is done, I often let Spotify’s Artificial Intelligence continue the playing tunes, and I have been able to discover several new albums that I have been getting into.
We are losing musicians to COVID-19. We’ve lost the great jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis, Afro-Funk saxophonist Manu Dibango, and the remarkable songwriter and singer John Prine. We do honor to each of these musicians by listening to their music, and there are excellent resources on the various music streaming services that allow you to dig into the songbooks of each of these great artists.
Another casualty of this emergency is the gig economy. Concerts, bar dates, and music festivals big and small have fallen to COVID-19. My Telluride Bluegrass Festival trip is off until 2021 due to the virus, and I expect some large local festivals will be announcing cancellations or postponements very soon. You can check on cancellations by going to the Live for Live Music site here: https://tinyurl.com/tbnobj9.
Regarding the local concert scene, I just got a notification that the Wolf trap King Crimson/Zappa Band Show is canceled, so I worry that much of Wolf Trap’s summer schedule will be impacted. If you have tickets for a Wolf Trap Show, check-in at the Wolf Trap website for more information on show status. You can check on cancellations by going to the Live for Live Music site here: https://tinyurl.com/tbnobj9.
One of my favorite groups, Umphrey’s McGee, released a song today that the members recorded remotely from across the country. Called Easter in Quarantine, the ballad speaks to the isolation and disconnect many of us feel as we sit out COVID-19. You can hear the tune on Spotify here: https://tinyurl.com/rr2azvb Expect to hear more remotely recorded music from a range of artists as the emergency continues.
The virus has also taken every performing musician of the live stage, serving up significant financial impacts along with the venues and promoters that support them. All of this chaos now finds many excellent musicians parked online doing mini-concerts and giving Skype and Zoom lessons to musicians and fans–a great opportunity. Many bands are streaming free shows, or impromptu sets on Facebook Live or Twitter as well. Connect with your favorites on social media, and see what’s going on–you may be surprised that you can do a free couch tour every Monday or Friday night, or your favorite guitar hero may just go on Facebook Live and shred for ten minutes.
The National Public Radio Music website has a page up that lists upcoming shows, and they are of the highest quality, check it out here https://tinyurl.com/v6m3d7c. April 10 featured jazz bassist Christian McBride, Grateful Dead cover-masters The Dark Star Orchestra, alt-folk icon Shakey Graves, and the Metropolitan Opera’s Romeo and Juliet (metopera.org), and those are only a few of the daily list.
Jambase just added a great feature to give you a huge variety of streaming shows. Many of these streaming concerts are free and will give your hours of music from bands like Phish, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Metallica, Jimmy Buffet, Umphrey’s McGee, Keller Williams, String Cheese Incident and many, many more. Go to https://www.jambase.com/livestreams/upcoming for more info.
As I mentioned above, The Metropolitan Opera is streaming full operas. I went to their site and was stunned at the variety of operas and panel discussions about the individual operas. If you like Opera, this is a fantastic opportunity to see these shows and their incredible production designs close up. The Met has also established an Emergency Campaign to help them get through COVID-19. If you watch an opera and like it, send some love their way, every dollar counts. More at metopera.org.
So, stay home, stay safe and healthy, and use some time to see and listen to music, even if it’s only virtual. Check out my Quarantine Playlist at https://tinyurl.com/y7b4nk4o; it’s an excellent soundtrack for all of us at staying home.
Steve Chase is keeping a good soundtrack going while working from home in Unison.