In March of 2020 I sent out a newsletter announcing my next couple of gigs, and had no idea it would be over a year before I'd be performing live again. We had all heard rumblings of this deadly virus, but we were optimistic things would stay reasonably "normal", and we'd be able to get back to gigging soon enough. No one was prepared for what was to come over the weeks, months and year ahead. Although we all figured out ways to carry on and live life despite the constant pivoting, us musicians and in particular everyone in the performing arts would question whether our beloved craft would have a place in our newly evolving world. Even as I write this, I am saddened at the loss of one of my regular performance venues in Boston: Les Zygomates, where I shared a very awkwardly positioned stage with many great musicians over the years, being careful not to trip and fall onto the drunk patrons at the bar below my feet. Many a time I would grumble at the inferior sound system, or the fact that I was so high above ground level that I could never get the bartender's attention to refill my water glass. But despite all of this I miss my regular gig at Les Zygs, and many of the other music venues which closed amidst the pandemic.
Although we couldn't perform live, we found new ways of sharing our music, from live streamed Zoom concerts such as the one I did last October with Molly Flannery and Bill McCormack through the Global Music Foundation, to creating home recordings such as the demo of American Tune Steven Kirby and I recorded in our home studios, to backyard concerts and front porch jam sessions. We desperately needed to find ways to play, and people NEEDED to hear us.
I am reminded of one of my favorite scenes from the movie, Titanic, where the ship's musicians cannot help but stop and play, despite the sinking of the ship: "Gentlemen, it's been a pleasure playing with you tonight". Or, another scene I'll never forget from the movie, Perfect Sense which is eerily about a global pandemic where everyone looses all five of their senses one after the other. In this scene people have already lost their sense of hearing, but are trying to adapt and live life. They are gathered in a concert hall simply to watch musicians play, and in desperation begin literally clinging to the speakers in order to feel the vibrations of the music. These are examples of how music can transform our human experience through a shared emotional language, bringing joy and even redemption amidst difficult times.
Now that life is emerging again I am so happy to hear of new and improved venues opening up, and more importantly for music lovers, both performers and fans alike to be able to get back into the scene. I know I've been itching to perform again live...and on that note, Let's get this show on the road!