Oregon’s and Washington’s stay-home orders have had a devastating impact on the region’s independent music industry – with numerous tours canceled, or halted midway through.
As part of OPB’s series exploring new music and genres that may not be part of your regular cultural diet, we asked opbmusic Music Director Jerad Walker to highlight the work of performers who have put their traveling plans on hold.
Sunbathe, “Somewhere in Between”
Sunbathe, the solo project of guitarist and singer Maggie Morris, who fronted the band Genders, has just released its second album.
“It’s grounded in really loud guitar-rock sounds,” Walker said. “But some of it is downright dreamy.”
Mo Troper, “Jas from Australia”
Mo Troper was gearing up for a U.S. tour to back his album “Natural Beauty” when the coronavirus outbreak prompted him to cancel his scheduled shows.
“I want to highlight this album, because it is a really joyous piece of music,” Walker said. “Mo is a power pop musician from the school of ‘more is more,’ and the tracks on the album run around 2 minutes on average. They’re just stuffed full of horns, keys, and strings and banjo, maybe even literal bells and whistles.”
MAITA, “A Beast”
MAITA, fronted by Portlander Maria Maita-Keppeler, was planning to tour Europe to promote an album it will release in May. The band’s rhythm section was already in Europe when the global pandemic forced MAITA to cancel its shows – which prompted a rapid scramble to get back to the United States.
“This song, ‘A Beast,’ is one of my favorites from the record, and I’m really excited to hear more from her,” Walker said.
Bart Budwig, “Sock Song”
“Sock Song” is a must-watch, thanks to Bart Budwig’s music video, Walker said.
It starts out as a seemingly straight-forward tune about washing clothes, performed within a laundromat.
“Then out of nowhere, about 2-and-a-half minutes in, a bunch of sock puppets join in on a chorus,” Walker said. “I like this for families, because you can teach your kids all about heartbreak, the missing-sock phenomenon that we all experience when we do laundry and country music – all under the guise of a Lamp Chop-style sing along.”
With so many tours on hold, Walker said there are still ways to support musicians, many of whom are suffering financially right now.
“You can listen to their music, which will obviously give you some joy and I think we all need that right about now. But you can also buy their music,” he said. “You can also buy merchandise from musicians, and you can donate directly to a whole host of funds that have been set up by nonprofits from around the region and the country.”
One place to donate, Walker suggested: the Jeremy Wilson Foundation’s COVID-19 Oregon Musicians Fund.