Along with our civil liberties, a casualty of The Age of The Virus has been live music. I’ve written about the strains the lockdowns placed on musicians frequently (including my many Bandcamp Friday posts), and have even hosted two front porch concerts to get around venue closures (and, it seems, the increasing number of venues that simply haven’t restored live music to their operations).
Fortunately, South Carolina is a free State, and live music is making a real comeback. Indeed, I had the opportunity to hear my buddy, poet Jeremy Miles, play a gig with his new band, Jeremy and the Blissters, at a hopping coffee shop Friday evening.
The experience was electric—and not just because of the piping hot sound system and stacks of amplifiers. The band—which, in addition to Jeremy, consists of good friends from the local music scene, two of whom have opened my front porch concerts—was stunning and powerful, offering up an eclectic mix of New Wave, punk, pop, acid rock, and more.
Beyond their impressive musical prowess and sweeping repertoire, Jeremy’s group reminded me of how fun live music can be—and how desperately we need more of it to return.
Good, local live music is about the music—of course—but it’s also about the camaraderie and community that builds around the music. At Jeremy’s gig Friday evening, I saw musician friends I had not seen in months—or even in a year. Reconnecting with those friends was a wonderful opportunity to get updated on their musical and literary projects, and sparked conversations about collaborations past and future.
Hearing live music is also creatively stimulating. Listening to and watching other musicians having fun and playing well always inspires me to hone my own craft. Indeed, my buddy John and I should be resuming rehearsals tonight to get ready for this year’s Spooktacular. I’m excited to get back to jamming, and am inspired to put on a good show in October. The gears have been turning, too, and I’ve been coming up with ideas for song selection, programming, and staging since Friday.
The benefits of live music extend to non-musicians, too. Even folks who can’t carry a tune in a slop pale love to sing along to beloved songs. There is a real sense of joy and energy when a crowd is really into the music. As a musician, that sense of electricity is incredibly gratifying. I’ve found that if I put out that excitement and energy, the crowd will pick up on it and respond in kind, creating a positive feedback loop of good vibes.
I don’t get out as much to hear or to play live music as I used to, both because of The Age of The Virus and because I’m getting older—usually I am wiped out in the evenings, and I very much cherish my alone time at home—but I hope to make going out to listen to others play a more regular occurrence. I’m also jonesing to get out and play some gigs of my own again.
If you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere that allows venues to be open, go take in some live music. It’s not all great, but you’ll find some diamonds in the rough. Be sure to leave your musicians a tip, too.