SLOAN COLUMN: Sequestered with some talented songwriters
When this COVID-19 thing finally blows over, we will be able to look back and be thankful for a few good things that are a result, either directly or indirectly, of this pandemic.
For me, one of them will be the Sequestered Songwriters Facebook page. Every Monday night since early April, I have logged in and listened to a bunch of homebound musicians share their incredible talents with the world.
Each week these singer/ songwriters choose a famous artist and spend the next three hours doing cover versions of his or her songs.
The lineup usually consists of 25 to 30 artists, each posting a live recording of their performance from their home. Most lead into their performance with a short story or tribute to the week’s themed artist.
These “virtual guitar pulls” began with a tribute to country legend Merle Haggard. About 600 or so people tuned in that first week to hear “Mama Tried” and “Okie from Muskogee.” Week by week, however, those numbers began to increase.
The weekly artists have included country music legends such as Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, and George Strait. The week after he passed, the songwriters paid tribute to Americana/Folk singer John Prine. They recently did the same for Charlie Daniels. They have also branched out from country music, spending one week singing songs made famous by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, and other weeks rocking out to The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen.
One week they discovered that playing and singing James Taylor classics is not nearly as easy as it may first appear. My favorite week was dedicated to ol’ Guy Clark. This past Monday was Robert Earl Keen, famous for his songs “The Road Goes On Forever and the Party Never Ends” and “Merry Christmas from the Family.”
As of last week, the page had more than 22,000 followers. I’m hoping those numbers will go up even more after this gets published.
More than likely you have never heard of most of these artists. They are not big recording stars. Most are independent singer/songwriters from Texas who perform locally and travel around the country when they can, trying to make a name for themselves and scratch out a living. Nearly all of them have recorded an album or two that you can easily find on your music-playing platform or device. Among those who regularly show up on Sequestered Songwriters are Wade Bowen, Drew Kennedy, Jamie Lin Wilson, Adam Hood, Cody Jinks, Max and Heather Stallings, and Kayla Ray.
Drew Kennedy always records from his backyard, even in the rain. Each week you’ll find Jamie Lin Wilson camped out in a teardrop trailer near her home in D’Hanis, Texas. Incredible views of the snow-capped mountains of Montana serve as the backdrop for Willy Braun.
The masterminds behind Sequestered Songwriters are husband and wife musicians Courtney Patton and Jason Eady. They came up with the idea of virtually gathering their friends for a Facebook show each week, since COVID-19 had put a halt to playing concerts. This way they could perform, hang out virtually with their peers, and possibly introduce themselves to new listeners. Each week Courtney and Jason, with input from others, choose an artist and then go about lining everybody up with a song selection and time. Taking care of all logistics has to be quite time consuming, but for them it has become a labor of love. And yes, the two perform every week.
Since that first night listening to Sequestered Songwriters, my Mondays have never been the same. I feel quite certain it will outlive COVID-19. I certainly hope so. Can’t imagine Mondays without all my new friends.
If you’re looking for something to do round 7 on Monday night, check them out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.