This year has certainly been one for the books. Between the COVID monkeys and the cocaine pigs, there has been a bright spot, besides more family time of course. Many of our favorite artists, following the cancellation of most (if not all) of their shows the last several months have taken to Facebook Live to share their art. David and I love live music, but we live at least an hour from “local” venues, have two little kids, and have alarms set in the 4-o’clock hour seven days a week, so we don’t make it to a ton of concerts. With this new accessibility, live music has been an almost nightly occurrence in our house the last few months.
First and foremost, I have to give a shoutout to the Sequestered Songwriters group. We heard of this group through artists we already followed, and through this group have found several more that we will continue to follow long after COVID has become a memory. This group of songwriters and friends looking for a place to share their talents started out “passing the guitar” performing Merle Haggard songs on his birthday (April 6th). They have since put out a well-organized tribute to more artists than I was willing to go back and count every Monday night. The highlight, for me, was for my all-time favorite songwriter Kris Kristofferson, with other favorites including Randy Travis and Aretha Franklin. The group (or at least the “Hag Off”) was the brainchild of Courtney Patton and Jason Eady, but they’ve often stated that several others have contributed significantly to the group’s growth and success.
Top 5 Artists We’ve Been Watching
I really can’t even list all of the artists we’ve watched, and they’ve run the gamut as far as fame and notoriety. My friend Mark Donnelly from my college days has put on a few shows, and I caught a pretty fun performance from Brad Paisley in March or April. These are the Top 5 performers David and I have watched numerous times over the last several months. Each has really made the most of their current situation, and continued to make and market their music even without their conventional means.
David gave me a Wade Bowen CD very early in our relationship when I was headed on a road trip with a friend, and he’s been one of my favorites ever since. Wade was one of the first to jump into virtual concerts with a weekly Wade’s World Quaranstream, where he swapped songs with a different guest each week. Fortunately for him, he’s been playing a few shows, and has been spending less time on Facebook Live the last few weeks, but he has participated in most of the Sequestered Songwriters nights.
Cody has been one of David’s favorites since his early days with Cross Canadian Ragweed. David even has some story about calling Jason Boland from Ragweed’s bus. Cody now has a band called The Departed, who we also enjoy. He’s been active on Facebook Live, and I don’t think he’s skipped a week of Sequestered Songwriters.
I first got into Jason’s music after the AgChat Conference in Austin many years ago where he played a solo acoustic set for our evening entertainment. I bought a CD from him that night, loved it, and have purchased a lot of his other music since. In addition to Sequestered Songwriters, he’s streamed numerous shows the past few months including a standing Sunday Supper Club show with his wife Courtney Patton.
I knew a little bit of Courtney’s music pre-COVID from an album she and Jason Eady put out together, but I hadn’t listened to any of her solo work before March. I was seriously missing out. We watched her and Jason live pretty early on in this ordeal, and David’s comment was something like “she could make anybody sound better”. Add good songwriting and a big personality to that voice, and that’s why Courtney is one of my new favorite artists. She’s the driving force behind Sequestered Songwriters, and last week she and friend Jamie Lin Wilson provided comic relief in a series of videos from their road trip through the heartland to play a few shows in Minnesota.
I only knew Jamie Lin Wilson’s name before I found the Sequestered Songwriters. She was a friend and cowriter to some artists I followed, but I didn’t know anything about her or her music, but holy smokes: I think we’re going to buy a record player just so we can get her albums on vinyl. JLW is doing a weekly livestream every Wednesday in July that has been a welcome addition to the middle of my weeks!
Shows to Watch This Week
If you’ve been missing out on this hidden gem of COVID, here’s what I’m planning on watching this week (7/27-7/31):
Monday 6pm: Sequestered Songwriters – Beatles Tribute
Wednesday 7pm: Max and Heather Stalling – We Ain’t Drinking Alone
Wednesday 9pm: Jamie Lin Wilson Livestream
I know the necessity of playing music on Facebook is not our favorite artists’ favorite thing. I certainly hope that venues can reopen sooner than later, for them and for society in general, but I can’t help but hope at least a little bit of this current situation will carry forward once that happens. In the meantime, we’ve been thoroughly enjoying concerts in our living room (and we’ve tried to offer some financial support through venmo tips and merch purchases).
Side Note: A lot of these shows are also recorded and posted, so you can catch up later (which I often do with Sequestered Songwriters since we usually eat dinner around 6 pm), another convenience compared to a “normal” concert. Follow the links above to check out some from our favorites.
Who did I miss? What are you listening to?