Not sure about you, but I am on day three of lockdown due to the coronavirus situation. Have been working from the house, making a lot of meals at home, even baking some bread. I hope to be finishing up some songwriting – some of that has been going on, but not enough yet to put anything out.
One of the things I am missing desperately is of course getting out and playing live. No one is going to open mic nights, particularly in Massachusetts, as there are no bars and no restaurants open. (Editorial statement – This is a good thing! We are trying to preserve the public health.)
I watched on Facebook as several friends I have met through playing music mourned their last gig before going into seclusion/quarantine and started wondering when the next time was we were going to be able to play in front of an audience. And then I realized that in today’s day and age, we didn’t actually need to leave our homes to be able to find at least some form of an audience. At the very least we could get together online and play for each other – and then hopefully invite others to watch as well.
Enter the Virtual Necessity Open Mic page. We are only two days in, but there are already over a half dozen performances up, and performers are working on new videos every day. This has started as a Metro West Massachusetts thing, but there is no reason that others who have a song to sing, a comedy bit to make people laugh, poetry to make people feel, or stories to tell can’t submit something to the page (send as a link or in a message).
Art is what will get us through this. Art and the knowledge that we are doing what we can to protect the people we care about. Please go ahead and film your song, poem, story, or jokes and then send them into the page. We’d love to get a little light.
First, it is my dearest hope that all of you are staying safe, and staying as healthy as possible. For those who can, please work from home, and certainly do what you can to both keep yourself from catching COVID-19 and help keep it from spreading further as well.
Second, I have some sad news related to Tunnel 18’s history. Donald Humphreys – my friend since our first day of kindergarten, the one drummer I have spent the most time with (we played together from about 1983-1996 or so), and the guy who came up with the name Tunnel 18 – died this morning.
He was diagnosed with glioblastoma (the same cancer that killed Neil Peart and Gord Downie) last spring and had been fighting the disease ever since.
I’m going to take this moment to renew my plea that if you can, please donate to any of the cancer societies who are doing good work and research into battling this disease. My favorite is Sunnyview, but there are many others.
Aside from this, I’m going to spend some time thinking of my friend and brother in music. I will remember building and then blowing up plastic model planes in his backyard. I will remember model railroading. I will remember riding bikes halfway across Bergen County. I will remember the very first days of Tunnel 18, of learning songs, sounding terrible and then sounding less terrible. I will remember playing parties where we eventually got police officers from four different towns in the county to come by to shut us down. I will remember meeting his kids for the first time, and him meeting mine.
We hadn’t been able to play music together for years because of the separation of a few hundred miles, but just like I have been playing music again, he was as well, shifting from drums to guitar in Outside The Lines, a band in northern New Jersey. I believe they will be soldiering on, and I strongly recommend you go out and take a listen if you can.
Farewell, my friend – thank you for all of the wonderful memories and for the impact that you made on so many of us.
I am incredibly thankful for my life and the incredibly cool things I get to do. Yes, there’s all the travel and my family and friends and music and building stuff, but…
Last fall, I spent the day with some new friends on the Esplanade in Boston. My friend (and sometime spirit guide) Andrew Geano had released his first solo album a few months earlier and was looking to shoot his first video:
“Chris! Are you free on Sunday? I am shooting a scene for my music video for my song “Not That Free” on the Esplanade and I am gathering people I know to participate in it have a small little part that I thought you’d be really good for. You’d be playing a street preacher getting up in the face of the lead character (played by our friend Audrey Rose). It will be pretty simple stuff, and you won’t be mic’ed, and the your part will last no more than 15 seconds. If this is something that interests you, let me know. 🙂”
My response was a casual and nonchalant YES!!
The video was formally released yesterday and there was a release party at Sally O’Brien’s in Somerville, MA last night to celebrate. And if I haven’t already, let me recommend a few bands and let you know about the great music you missed from:
Audrey Rose Hughes
And of course…
Thank you for being patient during a long absence – been an interesting few weeks, and I should be back on this blog a little bit more regularly now. Without getting into details, I hope to be recording a few news songs, including one I started last night about how life flies by so fast.
I’m looking forward to being with you again soon. Thanks for joining me on the journey, as always.