Music in Quarantine: Isolated Examples of How Local Artists Are Dealing With Uncertain Times

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, , Artist Feature,   From Issue 895   By: Jason Dean

23rd April, 2020     0

When musicologists look back at the creative output of the 2020s, there’s a good chance that the decade may be viewed as one of the most fertile in modern times. (Of course, we still need to make it to 2030, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.) As any songwriter who’s been inspired by a breakup or the death of someone close understands, devastation and uncertain times can unearth a vulnerability that connects us to the human condition. I’d like to think that this collective creative energy, processing on so many different levels an experience shared by the entire world, is bound to produce some transformational music. 

The ripples of impact have been felt in every community, large and small.

As musicians turn to livestreaming as the best option for interacting with fans and keeping their performance skills sharp, songwriters are finding new inspiration as they deal with inevitable delays on completing recording projects. 

Since mid-March, live music has been on pause in Michigan and the rest of the country. Whether it’s in the corner of a small dive bar, the cavernous confines of a 50,000-seat arena, or an outdoor music and arts festival, the coming together of people to see live musical performance may not return for a while. And when it does come back, it may look completely different.

Until then, many local artists are soldiering ahead with recording projects while adapting to the limitations that come with following Michigan’s stay-at-home order. Technology gives artists more freedom and flexibility, such as the ability to collaborate remotely via file sharing. But when any and all physical interaction stops, every step in the process is affected. 

Andy Reed, whose Reed Recording Company is a haven for many local artists, has had to cancel more than 30 sessions so far. He’s waiting to hear if the Governor will loosen restrictions so that individual clients, which make up the bulk of his business, can book time in the studio.

“Eighty-five percent of the people I work with have other jobs, so initially I didn’t know how much of a priority I’d be,” says Andy. “But when I opened up my calendar to the people who had projects that had been postponed, it filled up in 4 hours, so I’m grateful for that.”  

In the meantime, Andy rearranged his studio so his 8-year-old daughter could have her desk next to his work space. “I bought a 22-inch bass drum head that we’re going to color, and that’s going to be on the main drum kit when people come over to record.”

But it hasn’t been all child’s play.

In the early days of the shutdown, the creative juices started flowing. “That first month, I really hit it hard. I had this burst of inspiration, like, I’ve got 4 weeks off—I’m gonna make a record!” The resulting work, Relay, Volume 2 ,will be released at the end of April. “Answer the Call,” which leads off the album, could apply to caretakers in general, but it has a more personal significance for Andy, whose mom is battling cancer. “I wrote the song kind of from my dad’s perspective about taking care of the love of his life through three bouts of cancer. It was also super inspired by the moment [in history], and people taking care of their loved ones.”

Andy’s discography is available for streaming and purchase on his Bandcamp page.

Of the 15 or so projects in various stages of production at Reed Recording Company, Ray Torres and Friends untitled album project has been completed and is currently being mastered. Ray is finalizing album art and other details for his highly anticipated debut, which he hopes to have available by the summer. “I’m releasing it for free, as my gift to the world,” says the virtuoso guitarist and former frontman for The Holy Gun

Ray’s vocals and guitar work are supported by Loren Kranzon drums and organ as well as Steve Nyquist on drumsand Andy Reed on bass and backing vocals. 

Another project recently wrapped at Reed Recording is Ron “Rosco” Selley’s F.O.R. Collective, Vol. 3, this time stacking his deck with blues classics supported by his usual cast of choice players.   

Elsewhere in Bay City, WinaSchnitzel is close to wrapping their full-length debut, In the Light, which is just missing Jaron Jock’s keyboard parts. Recorded at home at guitarist/vocalist Steven Schnettler’s Papa Doc Studios, where he and lead singer and sister Shannon Schnettler have been sheltering in place for the past month, the album will feature 10 songs and will be released in CD and vinyl. Rachel Ruby of Voodoo Tattoo did the cover art.

“We got Jaron’s organ done before the lockdown,” says Steven. “But it looks like he’ll be finishing the keys at his house.” Like many businesses Steven’s day gig at Mid-Michigan Fiberglass is shuttered, so while he collects unemployment, a home studio is quite convenient. 

“We’re hoping to do our CD release at Bemo’s,” says Shannon. “But depending on the timing of everything, we might just do a digital release.” 

The Hellbound Drifters were also wrapping up their debut release at Papa Doc Studios (aka SRS Recording) when the lockdown hit. “We’ve got pretty much everything recorded, with the exception of vocals,” says singer/guitarist Joshua James Corrion. With a working title of Redemption, Josh says the project has been in the works for the past 3 years, since the current lineup of Terry Poirier (drums), James “Jypsy James” Marcet (bass) and Jaron Jock (keys / guitar) came together. Blending genres into extended jams, the CD will feature four songs written by Josh and two by James.

Asked about the dynamics of staying connected to his bandmates during the lockdown, Josh admits it’s a little different. “There’s only been communication in the same room with two of us one time since this all happened,” he says. “Terry and I are still working, but James and Jaron aren’t. We can’t wait to get back and start playing shows.”

Last but not least, there’s always the D.I.Y. option, favored by Baked, a post-punk beatnik duo that recently completed their live, three-song EP, Social Distancing, on the Band Labs app, which allows collaboration and multi-tracking.   “We’re planning on having it up on streaming services and we’ll be putting together a merch bundle to go with the CD,” says singer/guitarist Brandon Laberge, formerly of The Delinquence. Percussionist Kayla Jane Schmidt’s craft businesses COL-aberation Creationsis handling the creation of T-shirts, stickers, and buttons that will make up the branded Baked package.

“Through this all, music is the one thing that is still the same, and we love to get lost in it,” says Brandon.

Do yourself a favor and seek out new music from your favorites in the area.  Even if you can’t see them, you can hear them if you know where to look.

 

 

 

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