The last few weeks have been interesting to say the least. And if you’ve had a meltdown or cried during a work meeting or angrily taken 4-5 neighborhood walks a day during quarantine, you’re not alone, my friend. I, too, have done all of these things.
But today, we’re not going to focus on all the bad. Being cooped up has us all questioning our sanity. But if we try to see the positive, at least we can do some things we’ve been meaning to do and keep busy in other ways. If you’re a bluegrass musician or enthusiast, here are some things you can do to productively pass the time.
Explore new music
Just because we can’t be within six feet of each other doesn’t mean we can’t share some tasty music. With the severity of COVID-19, a lot of our wonderful bluegrass artists aren’t able to tour or promote their new albums. If you need new tunes, how about helping to support their ventures?
- Sierra Hull’s 25 Trips: She still plans to tour later this summer, but in the meantime you can download and listen to her recently released album!
- Fireside Collective’s Elements: They plan to re-celebrate their album release later in the year. But, hey the hype of an album coming out is definitely doused by this quarantine, so let’s keep the love alive, huh? (The band is also hosting live streams every Friday, for the time being for #FiresideFridays. Tune in on Facebook).
- Appalachian Roadshow’s Tribulation: The group just released this stellar album. Folk Alley said, “they celebrate the community that gathers together in the face of such tribulation to celebrate love, to dance and to sing of the possibilities of redemption, to welcome home the weary from their travails”. You can also catch guitarist, Zeb Snyder, on the LWM YouTube channel really soon for an interview with Marcel.
Maintenance, you animals!
You’re just sitting on the couch again, why not do some good ol’ guitar maintenance? Do it, I dare you.
- Change your strings.
- Polish your guitar, get that thing shining.
- Stock up on strings. You may have heard that D’addario has paused portions of their business. So, you better place some orders now so you have fresh strings through the rest of the quarantine.
- Check out Straight Up Strings and use the coupon code LWM20 for 20% off a pack of strings.
Live streams are kind of the future?
You don’t need to go to a venue or a bar to get drunk and listen to good music! Tune in to some online live streams to help support your favorite artists and give yourself something to do a few nights a week. It’s a good way to interact, stay busy and be active with the community.
- Trey Hensley: Watch Marcel interview him, follow him on Instagram for funny stuff. But head to his Facebook page for the live streams!
- Into the Fog: This semi-local Raleigh/Wilmington band is doing pretty regular live streams on Facebook as well. Give them a follow and tell them Marcel and Kj sent you.
- The Mountain Grass Unit: Maybe you’ve heard Marcel talk about his buddy Luke Black? Luke has done some transcriptions for Marcel and his work has been featured on the YouTube channel. His band, The Mountain Grass Unit has hosted some live streams.
If you can afford it, you might want to consider buying some merch from local artists and venues. You can tip musicians on venmo sometimes during live streams, you can buy gift cards to venues for future drinks, too! It would help keep some musicians eating proper and local music joints a chance to stay open while the world is under siege. Lessons with Marcel has some great merch options. Might I suggest the Flatpick Raleigh Long Sleeve? I helped to design that one. (Please purchase, Sushi Cat needs braces!)
Now that you’ve supported the entire bluegrass community and feel like a boss, time to work on your own stuff again. Get to practicing, you fool. If you don’t have musician roommates or siblings or spouses/significant others, maybe consider getting Strum Machine, which gives you backing tracks so you can practice easily. Your first 30-days are free at strummachine.com/marcel. Watch YouTube videos. Play songs you aren’t great at. Just play, dude. You only get better if you keep doing it.
Welp, hopefully this helped! Drop some comments below with your favorite bands to support, live streams you’ve enjoyed or let us know what your bluegrass life looks like right now.