Quarantine time killers for bluegrassers

Greetings from—where else?—home. And, whether you’re self-isolating, self-quarantining, or sheltering in place (I have to admit when I first heard the phrase, I assumed “shelter in place” was a square dance figure), I’d say there’s a pretty good chance you’re reading this from home.

Not only are we dealing with the absence of in-person music events of any kind, and the resulting loss of income for bluegrass artists and musicians everywhere, but people who normally spend most of their time on the road are now spending more time at home than they ever have in their lives. Spouses everywhere, who had always wished their partners would stay home more may now be inwardly chanting the cliché “be careful what you wish for.”

Fortunately there are a variety of virtual alternatives to playing actual concerts, like livestreaming, which may even generate up to 5% of the revenue artists would have made playing to a live audience. 

And, for those musicians who find themselves with more downtime than they’ve had since their second grade summer vacation, there have been countless suggestions and “challenges” on social media guaranteed to occupy everyone, for a week or so anyway: there are fitness challenges, like doing 10 push-ups every day; music challenges, like writing a tune every day; health challenges, like actually staying home like you’re supposed to and not acquiring or spreading the virus. 

I figured since when I’m off the road I live in a semi-isolated state anyway, I could add a few ideas to the mix for bluegrass musicians or fans who have way too much disposable time on their hands right now:

  • Learn all the verses to Barbara Allen then sing it with your head submerged in a bathtub. Livestream it.
  • Teach yourself to imitate Carlton Haney (there are lots of YouTube videos for reference, or use the Merle Haggard Live From Muskogee album), then recite the Hamlet soliloquy in that voice.
  • Binge-watch the Netflix series Binge about an unemployed guy who binge-watches a lot of stuff.
  • Learn to knit, then knit a bass case. Give it as a gift to someone who doesn’t own a bass.
  • Translate the entire J.D. Crowe Rounder 0044 album into Portuguese and perform all the songs, in order, beginning with Old Home Place (A Velha Casa) in a livestream concert.
  • Write one additional verse to every song on the Flatt & Scruggs Carnegie Hall album, with the phrase “social distancing” worked into every one.
  • Create your own toilet paper by fusing pasta and old CD booklets.
  • Create your own hand sanitizer using moonshine and glycerin (you may also have to create your own glycerin).
  • Create your own COVID-19 cure using moonshine, turmeric, squirrel sweat, and your own blood. Alert the government (after posting it on Facebook).
  • Do a livestream concert using a backdrop of nothing but empty cereal boxes.
  • Do 10 push-ups a day while repeating the phrase, “the plans we made have gone astray.” Livestream it.