Music in the Time of a Pandemic

Music is a vital part of our culture, since it is one of the most sacred forms of healing and storytelling. It is an important part of our everyday lives and has the ability to connect people of all ages and cultures.

Even though nothing can replace the energy exchanged between musicians and a live audience, listening to and playing music virtually, or even alone, still provides us with comfort and solace, stimulates our minds and opens us up to new experiences.

I recently interviewed several musicians who live in Easton and asked them how they are sufficing both professionally and creatively during Covid. I’ve also provided links to their music videos and information on how to purchase CDs.

Here’s what they had to say:

~Carl Carter~

Carl Carter

I am the bassist for the Broadway show, “Come From Away.” ‪On March 12‬, we were informed that all Broadway shows were closing down due to Covid-19.  Since then, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family here in Easton. Before the shutdown, my family and I were very fragmented, running from one commitment to another. It’s been great just being together and connecting.  

It has been quite challenging not playing for a show that I fully enjoy and one that has such a beautiful message of being kind to one another. I carry that message with me every day, especially during these challenging times.

I’ve been recording a great deal of “remote sessions” here at home. The other good thing about having so much time is that I’ve been recording a new instrumental album that will be released in the spring of 2021.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/carlcarter203 .

~Florisca Carter~

Florisca Carter

I am originally from the island of Dominica and grew up immersed in the music of the Caribbean, Soca (soul calypso) Zook (very strong French cadence) and reggae. After graduating Berklee College of Music, I sang lead with three-time Boston Music award winners (reggae category), The Itones.

On arrival at Berklee, I decided to focus on other musical genres such as jazz, gospel and studied the vocal techniques of all the greats: Aretha, Gladys, Barbara Streisand and others.

Currently, I am employed as the Director of Operations for a remote school in Brooklyn. While I am passionate about singing and graduated Berklee College of Music with a bachelor’s degree in Performance Studies, I have not been an active performer.

I’ve had a lot of time to reflect since the onset of the pandemic, and I’ve concluded that I need to make the time to perform more often.

Florisca Carter accompanied by acoustic guitar.

Facebook video of impromptu performance: https://www.facebook.com/florisca.carter/videos/10163062962525543/.

~Khaleel Mandel~

My musician precursors spoke openly about what they’d wish to see and hear for music’s future, so it’s been my responsibility to grant however many of their wishes as I’m able. No matter who tried to bypass it, the unspoken requirement has always been to soundtrack society’s current status quo.

Khaleel Mandel

I’m an Audio Cartographer, so I compose records that are meant to be someone’s directions to some kind of destination. Since March 2020, music is primarily here to be a navigation system, because a solid solution is the only place a lot of us need to arrive.

I was sitting with the idea of only singing on my third album then only rapping on my fourth album, since later on last year, the appropriate moment just needed to appear for me to execute it. Once the beginning of the Connecticut lockdown hit I was working on my third album, “Close The Book” {The 3rd Album}. “Philharmonic “{The 4th Album} started production Memorial Day weekend, so I kept myself on a strict schedule. My own stakes have been high for a large chunk of my life, so the world’s risen stakes provided an added pressure on me to get dropping two polar opposite albums in one year exactly right. I especially wanted to make two albums that can be a part of the scores for people’s five-year plan, which may have started in 2020. 

Interestingly enough, traffic toward my material accelerated right when the lockdown started in March. Since then my albums have been played hundreds of thousands of times and my daily routine has been thrust into changing certain rules in the music business. This virus is bringing a lot of damage to our planet, but the virus only added more muscle mass to music. Music has a role of assisting one’s manifestations, so my main goal is for “Close The Book” and “Philharmonic” to help manifest healthy, plentiful, and proper solutions for us. 

Official music video for : https://youtu.be/JHibOeYo0tA.

Website: https://khaleelmandel.com.

Music: https://www.artistpr.com/members/khaleel-mandel/ .

~Dan Tressler~

Dan Tressler

2019 was a booming year for gigs. Going from 75 gigs to around 10 was the reality of 2020. I suppose I had readied myself for 2020 about seven years ago when I burned out from making music, performing for 21 consecutive years and had switched my full-time focus to a stone career. It would have been much more mentally challenging if I did not have the previous experience of no performances for a full year.

It was awkward playing the first few gigs after the quarantine period from the onset of cases in America. I had found a nice comfort zone playing the first and third Sundays at Harborview Market, outside, with a reasonable distance from the patrons on the patio. I was able to do a few weddings and private parties with my duo group, “Amber Anchor,” between August and October. I also had a few opportunities to get into other studio projects with a producer from Fairfield that I generally work with frequently.

I have spent most of 2020 with a strong focus on the business of stonework and taking care of several clients’ properties to maintain their grounds. It has kept me mentally and physically fit during this “one heck of a year.” It’s also a good outlet for songwriting. They tend to pop up out of thin air when I’m working on an outdoor task. Sometimes I have to grab my phone and hit the record button so I will be able to address it later after putting a lock on it. Otherwise, it will be lost forever.

I have been able to do some recordings and have been going through my archives of my Easton barn concert videos from the past seven years. Everything will eventually end up on the YouTube channel entitled “stringfingersband.”

I am looking forward to this winter, as I continue to record and have more time to do so. I am very much hopeful for a return to outdoor music concerts next year, not only for my sake, but for all of the musicians that are more full-time in the industry.

Dan Tressler performs with String Fingers: “Has the Whole Darn World Gone Mad”

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AskAmberAnchor .

~Samantha Preis~

During Covid, I have been working hard recording a live album from home and collaborating with various artists around the world. I split my time, living here in Easton and in London.

Earlier in the year, my sister Anne Preis, and I wrote a silly, uplifting song, “Quarantine Queens,” to bring comfort to many during challenging times:

Since then, I have uploaded a variety of original songs to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/samanthapreis.

~Ricardo Reyes~

Ricardo Reyes

Needles to say this pandemic has been extremely difficult for many. The loss of lives jobs, etc.

When this thing began, I came across an article that had an impact on me. It’s stated how we should embrace difficult challenges because that’s when you learn who you really are and how maybe this pandemic is opportunity to work on personal growth and personal development.

Every Thanksgiving each member of the family sitting at the table gets an opportunity to acknowledge what they are grateful for. I said I’m grateful for this difficult year, because it allowed me to learn about myself, and it allowed me to appreciate my family, true friendships, along with exposing my strengths and weaknesses

As an artist, I have taken this time to work and tighten loose ends, and all of those projects I never had the time for. I have had to polish up some old skills as well as learning new ones, mostly in the realm of video production.

I launched a new business, “Del Mundo Productions,” a creative agency that fuses concept creation, music art, event marketing and sales representation. All the things that I love, and I do well.

In a nutshell, the way the pandemic has altered my career is that it’s allowed me to grow in different areas of my creativity. Instead of playing out, I’ve been completing projects, creating and putting my skills out there for other folks to hire.

As a professional musician who makes a living playing and performing, I had to find new ways to make a living by developing new skills and avenues to share your creativity out to the world.

I will also be launching two new records in the first quarter of 2021, and hope to release a documentary that I started two-and-a-half years ago about the fabric industry called “The Fabric Chronicles.”

This has been a life-changing experience for the entire world. My heart goes out to all who have been affected directly and indirectly by Covid.

Come on and Dance Beardsley School, Bridgeport Art Trail 2020: https://youtu.be/rPRogXriWy8

Facebook video of Reyes’s collaborative performance of Feliz Navidad: https://www.facebook.com/114639255228187/posts/5376335525725174/

Reyes’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ricardo.reyes.520

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