Music is a very personal thing and we all have different soundtracks to our lives. My earliest musical images include the gospel choirs my grandmother led at the church down the road, as well as the many piano students that came to her house, playing in the living room while I listened from her bedroom or screened porch.
Think about your favorite artists in high school, the music from your wedding, an artist you saw with a lover you are no longer in touch with, the records your parents played, the band a friend introduced you to in college. The list can go on and on depending how much of a music junkie you are. I even have artists I associate with sickness and healing. The first time I listened to the Flaming Lip’s The Terror, I was sick with a fever, curled up on the couch covered in blankets with headphones on…and it was great. Willie Nelson’s Spirit was an album I gravitated towards after a hospital stay.
I’m wondering if in a few years, when we hopefully have a vaccine for Covid-19 and we aren’t practicing social distancing, if we will look back at our pandemic artists. The ones that helped us get through a bad time because of a lost job, the death of a friend, or just the coping of a new way of life.
Cory Branan and Robbie Fulks will probably be towards the top of my list when looking back on this time. Cory has released two great collections he’s referred to as Quarantunes, and after hearing Fulks come up in a playlist shuffle I went back and bought his 2018 Revenge of the Doberman releases. I’ve played shows with both of these artists, opening for Cory a couple of times here in Columbia, S.C. and weaseling onto a bill with Fulks in Raleigh, N.C. once, only to be denied the opening spot. We went on after Fulks’s set…after the bar cleared out. I remember seeing Robbie upstairs shooting pool while we played. I don’t blame him, we were just kids trying to get noticed, and the bar owner offered us the opening slot so we jumped at the opportunity, but Robbie wasn’t having it. If we were going for a longer list, I’d probably have to add Neil Young, but hell, he probably gets added to most of my lists.
From the local side of things I’d say there are tons of local/regional artists out there who are struggling a bit right now. I realize some have day jobs (and some may have even lost them), but they often rely on live gigs to supplement their income or, as in many cases, to supplement their way of life. Music is so much more than $$$. A few around my neck of the woods that have new Americana releases that I’ve been enjoying include:
Kristen Harris and Borger Wiggle, a great ole-time fiddle record;
Chris Compton’s the Black and White Sessions, my favorite local songwriter
that should be more well known;
Pocket Buddha, my good friend Darren Woodlief’s project has a beautiful single entitled “On the Ferry” that features Will Kimbrough on guitar;
Bentz Kirby’s River Falls, an album that I produced and played on which, as stated by Columbia’s Free-Times “At his best, Kirby evokes the classic outlaw country he adores — Texas red dirt, tall tales and all.”
Stay safe. And let me know your pandemic artists of choice below.
RIYL: vaccines, masks, government getting it right (is that a thing?)
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