These days, the words COVID-19 and quarantine go together like peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese. Those latter foods are probably stacked in your pantry as you’re reading this. Mostly everyone, unless they still have to go to work, is staying inside while music venues, bars and restaurants have their doors closed until the end of March. Local musicians and bands are using this time to either figure out other ways of generating income or pursuing projects that they previously didn’t have the time for. In a time where things are uncertain, a good way to ease the anxiety is to get creative in a crafty way.
Alt-funk act Grizzlies, who came to be on the campus of the University Of Rhode Island in Kingston, are using this situation to hone their skills in isolation and make new material. They also have a lot of hope that The Ocean State’s music community can come out on the other side of this crisis unscathed.
“Grizzlies is taking the time off to practice and write for our upcoming releases”, says bassist Mike Villani on what the band is up to. “We’re wishing the Rhode Island music scene love and a speedy recovery once this is all over”, guitarist Josh Zenil adds. Vocalist Cynthia Munrayos also mentions: “We hope everyone is staying healthy both physically and mentally and we believe this pause will help our community come back stronger than ever.”
Over in nearby West Kingston, Ray Gennari at his recording studio Rocktorium Records is getting to work on a new album from his band Gumption & Glory. He rarely gets the chance to work on his own music due to his busy schedule so he’s taking advantage of the time he currently has.
“I’m basically just trying to stay as positive as possible through all this and even view it as a gift,” He talks about how he’s doing given the circumstances. “Normally, I’m working on everyone else’s records, so I can never grab more than a few moments here or there to work on my own. Between not gigging, and recording studios not being a great place to practice social distancing, for the first time in years, I have a substantial window of time to fully dive into my own stuff. I’ve set myself a goal of having this record fully tracked and mixed before this is all over, I don’t know when I’ll get the chance again. Being creative and productive certainly helps offset just a touch of the stress of not having an income, and of this time in general. Not a lot, but it helps.”
Phil Adams in Westerly has been going the popular route of live streaming over social media outlets like Facebook. He initially started watching other musicians’ and artists’ streams to keep himself occupied so he decided to take it up himself.
“Mostly I have been trying to catch other artists’ streams to feel connected,” Adams says on what he’s been doing. “I’ve done a couple of short streams and plan to do more, just for the sake of giving us something to do for a while besides binge Netflix and worry. I think it’s important that artists and everyone continue to comply with guidelines and keep everyone in our community safe and keep our distance.”
I’ve said it before but I can’t stress it enough, one very easy way to support local musicians and bands is to buy their music online. Log on to Bandcamp or search through ITunes and most likely you’ll find some tracks from your favorite musician or band in the area. Pay the price, click to download and all the money will go directly to them. It’s a big help in a situation where every day can get more and more uneasy as it goes on.