EASY ED’S BROADSIDE: The Self-Isolating Roots Music Festival
As I sit in my apartment a few miles north of New York City, and only a few minutes away from what we’re now calling The Containment Area, I wait for the pandemic to land at my doorstep. In our little corner of Westchester County there are now officially 98 cases of the coronavirus reported, schools are closed, the National Guard has been dispatched, I witnessed a fight over toilet paper at the local Costco this morning, and, God help us, they’ve sold out of frozen pizza at Trader Joe’s.
With millions of people living in the tri-state area you might think that a few hundred confirmed cases doesn’t sound all that threatening, but all the public health officials are warning it’s only the beginning. The World Health Organization‘s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced that “We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction.” (The Washington Post — or #fakenews as some call it.)
While Tedros could be right, he’s probably not heard that here in America we’ve already developed an antidote to the virus. It seems that a weekend of playing golf at Mar-a-Lago and shaking hands with possibly infected ass-kissing conservative politicians and donors will make you immune to all future illness. And if for some reason that fails, we’ll be arming every doctor and nurse with automatic weapons and orders to shoot the germs on sight while we begin building walls around hospitals.
If you think I’m making light of this human tragedy, it’s only because I’m anxious and nervous, and humor is a form of relief. You see, at my age with an underlying medical condition and being a Democratic Socialist who likely conspired with the Chinese to cause this to happen, my odds of beating this virus if it lands at my doorstep aren’t all that great. And so here I am, acting like a young Brian Wilson: in my room.
Sadly, you’ve likely heard that music festivals and tours are being canceled in rapid succession. Musicians, record labels, and fans have lost money that they probably barely scraped together to attend SXSW in Austin. Marketing and launch plans have turned to dust, and the organization will not be issuing any refunds. To add insult to injury, any national economic relief plan that the DC superstars put together will exclude participants in the arts.
For almost six years up until 2016, Couch By Couchwest was a great way for musicians to share their music. Running concurrently with SXSW, the online video festival let anybody upload a clip to their site and you could tune in whenever you wanted and catch both pros and amateurs. I heard a lot of great music, made lifelong friends, and it beat the inconvenience, heat, and cost of any outdoor festival. If you guys are still out there, this would be a great time for a revival.
Lacking that effort, I’ve put together my own mini-fest of some recent (mostly) live videos for your enjoyment. Please wash your hands for 20 seconds before watching and try not to breathe. And please, stay safe.
For more information on finding sources for online concert streaming, check out this article from the San Francisco Chronicle. And for news on the financial impact the virus is having on the music industry, here’s an overview from Fortune.
Milk Carton Kids and Rose Cousins – “Wild World”
Nathaniel Rateliff – “And It’s Still Alright”
The Reckless Drifters – “Drivin’ Nails in My Coffin”
Dori Freeman – “Walls of Me and You”
The Mastersons – “Eyes Wide Open”
Honey Harper – “Tomorrow Never Comes”
Nora Jane Struthers – “Nice to Be Back Home”
Bonny Light Horseman – “Jane Jane”
John Moreland – “East October”
Tré Burt – “Caught It from the Rye”
Terry Allen & The Panhandle Mystery Band – “Abandonitis”
Charles Wesley Godwin – “Coal Country”
Courtney Barnett – “So Long, Marianne”
Many of my past columns, articles, and essays can be accessed here and at my own site, therealeasyed.com. I also aggregate news and videos on both Flipboard and Facebook as The Real Easy Ed: Americana and Roots Music Daily. My Twitter handle is @therealeasyed and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.