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Art in these crazy times

By guest columnist R. Shaw Furlow

R. Shaw Furlow

Well, folks, here we are again. Another month has come and gone and still no live performances. I miss the music, but I miss my friends as well. I have committed to do a show in Natchez at a small venue at the end of this month. It’s something I have to do for me. It’s been a while.

With the world still reeling from the Coronavirus and two hurricanes, the future of live performances, as we knew them, is bleak. Broadway and professional regional theatres are still dark. Thousands of actors, writers, musicians, tech personnel, costumers, stage hands are all sitting at home hoping for an end. Bands with new music out should be on the road promoting the album. But they are at home as well. I recently read where the venerable soul band, Tower of Power, had to cancel a European tour for the first time. Legendary guitarist Al DiMeola is at home showing off his Italian roots in the kitchen.

Some musicians have used this time to write and create new music. Pop superstar Taylor Swift dropped an album no one even knew she was recording. On the other side of the music business, young Brookhaven rapper and former Co-Lin Blue Wave Show Band member Kris Jamz took to his small, home studio and went to work producing several new tracks.

I guess out of weirdness some normalcy is welcomed. Creativity comes from many sources.

A friend of mine, who has pretty much quarantined as much as I, plays his guitar and writes songs every day.

Tony Norton, one of the partners in the Downtown Music Academy, has used his time off to cook with his daughter. He also has done some wood carving, creating keepsakes for his friends.

Recently, on my weekly day out of the house, I ran into local guitarist, former Co-Lin rock band Sojourner Kyle Graves, and I asked him about gigs. He has some venues where he plays solo shows and has been able to hold onto some of them, depending on the size of venue. “It’s not the same,” he told me, “ but it is something.” Ahh, youth.

Virtual concerts are becoming quite prolific on the internet. Everyone from established stars like Jimmy Buffet and Vince Gill to members of the Chicago Symphony have placed music on Facebook and YouTube, all remotely recorded and carefully edited. I will cite some links at the end of this column. I highly recommend Eric Whitaker’s mass choir.

Once again, the creative minds at the Brookhaven Regional Arts Guild (BRAG) have come up with a way to show their works during this long spell. "Landmarks and Landscapes" is their latest endeavor, a virtual art show that promotes the talents of guild members. Like other art shows, it was adjudicated and there were works for sale. Winners were selected and prizes were awarded. Although the voting is complete to honor particular show works, you can still catch many pieces on the "Landmarks and Landscapes" website. Visit its Facebook page for all the information that would be too much for this column.

"We really had to get creative," local artist Derek Covington Smith, vice president of BRAG said. The latest BRAG venture follows its drive-through art show, which it hosted in a downtown Brookhaven parking lot a few months ago. The latest virtual project was a bit difficult to judge, Smith noted. “There were works for sale, like at an in person show," he said. "We are now looking for a venue that can handle our annual regional show in November. There will be well over a hundred entries from all over the southeast.”

Here are some websites for some of the virtual shows.

In these crazy times, when you can’t go out, these clips will have to suffice. Support the arts my friends. Artists want to work.


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