As COVID-19 has disrupted nearly every industry world wide, music has been no exception. Canceled tours, delayed releases, and depressed income has not stopped some of my favorite artists from keeping audiences entertained while supporting folks in need across the music industry. These five musicians are putting on excellent live events to keep people entertained and inspired during quarantine.
I hope that these artists’ offerings not only bring you joy in these hard times, but that they also inspire you with the creative ways they are supporting their communities’ physical and mental health during this time.
Colin Meloy (The Decemberists)
The first on our musicians keeping us entertained during quarantine list is Colin Meloy from The Decemberists. Meloy has kept me thoroughly entertained with his occasional guitar lessons on Instagram. In each rendition, Meloy attempts to teach his virtual audience how to play one of his songs. Alas, he gets ferklempt every time and endearingly bubbles through the lessons. They are enjoyable and informative, no matter how harsh Meloy is on himself. The Decemberists have also begun selling “Quaren-Tuxedoes” aka sweatpants and sweatshirts, 1000-piece puzzles, and cloth facemasks with the apt quote “everything is awful” adorning them. Proceeds from the masks benefit the MusiCares COVID-19 relief fund.
Many musicians are live streaming from home, either to raise funds or simply pass the time themselves. Frontman Ryan Miller’s recent Ask A Rabbi* stream immediately lands him on this list. The stream brought on Mike Gordon of Phish to the exuberance of every 80s and 90s Jewish-summer camper in North America and simply had viewers ask whatever random questions came to mind. The stream was perfectly emblematic of the kind of entertainer that Miller is and famous for. Meanwhile, the band’s drummer and keyboardist Brian Rosenworcel and Adam Gardner have been participating in live cooking demonstrations of healthful and ingredients minimal recipes hosted by Reverb.
Soccer Mommy is one of countless artists whose tours were postponed or canceled due to COVID-19. Instead of touring the country live, Soccer Mommy launched an incredible 8-bit U.S. video tour online. You can watch the band perform five songs from Soccer Mommy’s latest album Color Theory in five different cities rendered in beautiful 8-bit. The genius idea coincides with the entire 8-bit video game-esque aesthetic of the album art. Additionally, each leg on the tour includes links to purchase the album from stores in those cities. Soccer Mommy has also recently performed live on Club Penguin, made a cool Zoom background based on her album art, and occasionally streams Stardew Valley on Youtube. She is a fantastic example of mixing entertainment mediums in creative ways.
I was supremely disappointed when Stella Donnelly had to cancel her U.S. tour a few months ago. While it is unlikely she will be able to reschedule any time soon, Donnelly alongside Jordi Davieson and Carla Geneve are hosting a live concert “at” Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, NY. The venue has launched a live streaming platform BabyTV to allow artists to charge for performances and earn income while also supporting the venue and charity. While a live stream is no replacement for an in-person event being able to support artists and venues you love during these difficult times in exchange for unique live experiences is absolutely a great way to fill the void until we can convene together again.
The pandemic started just as The Overcoats were launching their sophomore album The Fight and gearing up to tour. Not letting stay at home orders stop their momentum the two-woman band has taken to Instagram Live to host Friday Night Fights with friends and fans. The duo performs acoustic versions of their songs and hosts games like Bingo and Never Have I Ever. The streams help simultaneously keep up their momentum as they release remixes and alternate cuts to songs from The Fight and bring fans together for something to do every Friday night.
What have your favorite artists and musicians been doing during self-isolation to keep you, or themselves, entertained? What creative ways have they raised funds or kept their momentum going during these difficult times? Who would you add to our “Musicians Keeping Us Entertained During Quarantine list?” Let us know online!
Pop culture is cool, but have you ever tried analyzing it through a historical and cultural lens so that you can not only understand the content more deeply, but be able to apply lessons to your own life through the act of criticizing it? No? Just me? Oh… Well, your loss. When I’m not editing the podcast or musing the effects media have on our lives, I’m off working to develop sustainable food systems. So remember, individual consumer choices won’t save the planet, Black lives matter and reparations must be paid, and remember to think critically about the pop culture you consume!