Though many states and communities are reopening in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s still tough 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.
This week, we caught up with Michelle and Jason Hannan of local country music group, Michelle Hannan and One Blue Night. We discussed their work on a brand new album that they wrote while quarantining, why there aren’t any songs they listen to that could help them through a pandemic, and how impressed they’ve been with fellow local artists who have taken to livestreaming content while the live music world is shut down.
For more on the band, as well as information on their upcoming album and soon-to-be-released single, you can check out their website, www.onebluenight.com, or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/onebluenight.
1. What were you listening to while self-quarantining and what about it made you want to listen to it during a pandemic?
Michelle: Our listening habits haven’t changed all that much during the pandemic, really. We listen to a lot of older country music and a ton of bluegrass. Since we’re working on an album, we’ve also been listening to the production values on different songs more closely, trying to get an idea of how we want our final mixes to sound.
Jason: I’ve been listening to quite a bit of jazz as well lately. With all the extra free time, I’ve been digging into jazz guitar, trying to get better at it. Lots of Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass.
2. Have you come across any livestreams/internet-based performances throughout the pandemic that have stuck out? If so, which ones and why?
Michelle: We’ve really been trying our best to support our friends who are also without gigs by listening to livestreams as much as we can. In particular, we’re always blown away by Shannon Bielski and Moonlight Drive, a bluegrass band based in Maryland. Shannon is an amazing fiddler, vocalist, and songwriter and her supporting musicians are just incredible. Her banjo player, Rob Benzing, is our absolute favorite banjo player and is someone Jason has collaborated with a lot over the last few years. We find a lot of good streams on the Facebook group Noteworthy Frederick, which focuses on singers and songwriters from the Frederick area.
3. You guys have been pretty prolific throughout the pandemic and I saw online that you have an album coming out. What can you tell us about the new record and creating/staying active musically during the time of COVID-19?
Michelle: We do have a new album coming out! We don’t yet have a release date, but it’ll be entitled ‘You Can Go Home — The Quarantine Sessions.’ The unique thing about it is that it’ll be done entirely in house. We’re playing all the instruments ourselves as well as doing all the production work. The first single, ‘You Can Go Home,’ should be out within a month and we’re very proud of it. It’s one of our originals and it’s a real tearjerker. Most of the album will be duets, which are a lot of fun to arrange and record. Aside from that, we did a series on YouTube for a while that we called ‘90s Country Tuesday, where we covered a different ‘90s country song every Tuesday. That was fun! In addition, we actually have played a couple gigs during the quarantine. Both of which were at Red Heifer Winery out in Smithsburg. We both take safety and social distancing very seriously and Yvonne and Kevin, the owners, are very safety conscious. It’s an outdoor venue with a ton of space, so we feel very comfortable playing there knowing we are not putting ourselves or others at risk.
4. What’s the most positive takeaway you’ve been able to experience from all the self-quarantining and the art world being on pause for the time being?
Michelle: Good question! We feel strongly that it’s important not to let this time just end up being a big blank space in our artistic lives so we are really trying to be as creative as possible. In addition to the stuff we mentioned about the album, we’ve really been trying to use this time for self improvement musically, like developing new material and improving our skills on our instruments. When we get back to playing shows, we really plan to hit the ground running with a lot of new stuff. It’s also given us time to listen more and learn from other artists, which we can never do enough of.
5. If there’s one song that you think could help everybody get through these uncertain times, what would it be and why?
Michelle: Is there a song about how everyone should wear a mask? Kidding. Honestly that’s a tough question. We only listen to sad songs, so we’re not qualified to answer this one!
To read Michelle’s answer to a bonus question, go to https://www.fredericknewspost.com/72_hours/.