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The latest South Carolina Public Radio News reports on the spread of the coronavirus and efforts to fight it.

Musicians Stay Connected During Virus Outbreak with Online Performances

Jesse Colin Young has established a series called One Song at a Time to keep in touch with fans and help them get some relief while they're home-bound during the COVID pandemic.
Courtesy of the Artist
Jesse Colin Young has established a series called One Song at a Time to keep in touch with fans and help them get some relief while they're home-bound during the COVID pandemic.

Musicians nationwide, like many performing artists, have had their shows cancelled indefinitely by concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.   South Carolina artists were no less affected, but Jesse Colin Young found a way to still communicate with his audience by making videos that his wife posts online on Facebook, YouTube and other sites.   

Young created a series of songs both old and new called "One Song at a Time," which follows a simple format:  he does indeed produce one song, not a concert, at his leisure, releasing a couple of songs a week, or whenever he feels like it, featuring just him and an acoustic guitar.  The technology his wife uses to record the songs is equally simple:  a cell phone.  A cancelled appearance at Austin, Texas's famed South by Southwest festival inspired the series: "I'd been practicing away and getting myself together, and all of a sudden I 've got nowhere to go.  And then the first thing Connie and I thought of was 'well, we've got the phone.  Maybe we should record "Sugar Babe" (an old fan favorite) and put it out there.  Some people who were really blue might need a little lift, and we could do it here in the studio with a phone.' So we did." 

Then came the idea of recording more songs as a way of keeping in touch with fans, but also to help heal some of the hurt that was caused by COVID-19.  "Connie suggested 'look back at  your catalog and think about how much healing music there is in that catalog,'" said Young.  "How much music about family, about love, coming together.  This is the way I contribute to my community.  We've enjoyed it, and we've stayed busy doing it." 

The idea of homemade music online was not unique to Young, however.  Camden native Patrick Davis, now a songwriter in Nashville, does a series of other people's songs he calls "Couch Covers."  He's been regular about it, issuing one song per day, so he's recorded more than 60 songs so far, and counting.  He also has some original music online, including a song inspired by the virus outbreak, "I Wish Corona Was Still Just a Beer." 

"I kinda just did it to keep myself busy, but also I figured it was very smart in these unprecedented times to try to stay in touch with people.  When I do shows I do maybe two covers in a two-hour-plus set, but I figured this was kind of a fun way to keep everybody kinda tied in together. "  

Davis said "Couch Covers" lets him revisit some of the music of his youth.  "I never would have slowed down long enough to recognize some of those things, and I think it'll pay dividends for years to come."  

Taking a deep dive into some of his older songs, Young hopes people will find as much relief from the pseudo-house arrest of the COVID pandemic as he has.  "I am selfishly looking each day for a song that will lift my spirits, and I figure if it lifts my spirits when I'm doing it, then when somebody listens to it, the same thing will happen. "  As for his song choices, "I'm just still kinda shooting from the hip, like, 'what are you in the mood for today?'  And letting my mind drift back through my catalog, a lot of songs which haven't been visited for years."  Both artists have taken requests for songs they'll record.

Young said sharing his musical gift makes him happy.  "It's fun being back there (in old songs).  When I look at the guitar each morning, I know there's an adventure to be had.  There's some new licks to discover, or chords.  It's been a joy." 

Their efforts are lifting both musicians' spirits, and Davis says he sees a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.   "People are just salivating for things that resemble normal."  He hopes "Couch Covers" songs bring joy to people, and a sense of normalcy.  "I'm telling all my musicians buddies, 'there's no wrong answer, man.  Just get content out there.  Get people motivated that things are going to get better.  One day, they're gonna be okay.'"