Though many states and communities are slowly reopening in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a particularly tough few months for musicians who made their livelihood playing music in a live setting. Because of as much, we’ve been checking in with various artists throughout the area to see how they’ve been coping during lockdown.
This week, we caught up with John Lawton, lead singer and guitar player for local rock band Chèvre. They just hosted a live-stream concert last weekend, and are putting the finishing touches on their next studio release. Among the things we discussed were how local musician Skribe has kept people’s attention throughout the pandemic, how listening to vinyl has helped him stay sane while being locked down and why COVID-19 has helped him formulate new lyric ideas. To learn more about Lawton and Chèvre, check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChevreBand.
1. What were you listening to while self-quarantining and what about it made you want to listen to it during a pandemic?
Lawton: I’ve been listening to a lot of vinyl during the pandemic. Listening to vinyl makes me slow down and really focus on music instead of worrying about the outside world. The top three that have been on repeat are: Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, ‘Close But No Cigar,’ Brown Acid, ‘The First Trip,’ which is a compilation of underground rock from the ‘70s and King Tubby’s ‘Dangerous Dub.’
2. Have you come across any live-streams/Internet-based performances throughout the pandemic that have stuck out? If so, which ones and why?
Lawton: I’ve been tuning into live streams by JB Dunn, Skribe, Scott Blecman and Matthew Murphy. I miss playing shows and going to see my friends play so being able to check in every once in a while has been nice.
3. Has this been a time that has been creatively fruitful for you? Have you been writing a bunch over the last three months?
Lawton: I’m always writing but the pandemic has affected my lyrical ideas. The amount of anxiety that you see just in a grocery run is no joke. I wrote a song called ‘Never You Mind’ you can find on my YouTube channel that expresses the opposing sides of being hyper-vigilant and the complete disregard some people have for public health and safety.
4. What’s the most positive takeaway you’ve been able to experience from all the self-quarantining and the sort of art world being on pause for the time being?
Lawton: The biggest positive to come from everyone having to hit pause is the lack of pressure to keep up with peers in terms of content, amount of shows, etc. My band Chevre have been working on mixing our record and we’re getting close to a final mix for the song ‘Lost in my Mind.’
5. If there’s one song that you think could help everybody get through these uncertain times, what would it be and why?
Lawton: I would be foolish to miss an opportunity to promote one of my songs: ‘Stay Lifted’ is a song I continue to find new meaning in. I think the first verse speaks to the overwhelming feeling that we are not in control right now. ‘There are forces beyond our control/They will try to steal our positivity so rise above is our only hope to reach our destiny.’
BONUS QUESTION: What artists, local or not, do you think have done a great job staying engaged musically online and what about what they’re doing and have done sets them apart?
Lawton: Skribe has been doing special merchandise releases with his live streams and I think that really draws people in. Plus he designs all his own merchandise so there’s that side of his creativity you get to see as well.