Local Musicians Collaborate in a Time Of Social Distancing

Cincinnati artists make do with at-home studios, distanced collaboration, and virtual concerts.
Local country artist Jordan Wood

Photograph courtesy of Jordan Wood

Although the current Cincinnati music scene has moved predominately online, local artists are still finding ways to collaborate with each other. Much like the recent spike in livestreamed shows, musicians have turned to virtual options for recording, performing, and creating music together, all from the comfort of their homes.

Local country artist Jordan Wood and guitarist Nick Giese have used their newfound free time to record and release their joint album, The COVID Sessions. “We’ve been wanting to record [an album] for quite a while, but we’ve never had the time to actually do it,” Wood says.

Cover design by Stacey Tucker

Communicating via FaceTime and sharing tracks through Dropbox, the pair laid vocals and guitar instrumentals from their respective home studios. Wood also released a video for project cut, “Ramblin’ Around,” which he made at home on iMovie.

“Not having each other right there in the studio to bounce ideas off of each other, it delayed things a little bit,” Wood explains. “It’s been new waters for both of us, but it actually turned out better than either of us had hoped for.”

On the collaborative performance side of things, Scott Preston, editor of Cincy Groove and organizer of Cincy Groove Music Festival, also turned to a virtual alternative. Instead of throwing his usual festival, he decided to host the event as a Facebook Watch Party.

“I wanted to help all of my friends who are musicians, because I know a lot of them depend on touring,” Preston says. “I started emailing them, ‘Do you wanna play?’ [Due to high demand,] I actually had to expand the schedule twice!”

Preston ended up recruiting more than 30 local bluegrass and Americana artists who performed live sets from home throughout the three-day online festival. In lieu of a ticket, viewers were encouraged to donate to artists through Venmo or PayPal.

Also keeping his collaborations going, rapper/producer Devin Burgess has pivoted his music business to provide mixing and mastering services from home for a discounted price. Recently, he mixed Siri Imani’s single “Bossa” and released his own demo tape, Wait On It.

“I don’t want this to stop me completely,” Burgess says. “It sucks that I can’t do what I want to do, but I’m going to make the best of the situation. You can still do stuff from the comfort of your own home.”

For artists who make their living from live performances, the pandemic has created a financial uncertainty that has no definitive end in sight. Collaborating with one another lets musicians reclaim control of their careers, connect with fans, and support each another during these difficult times.

“When all this happened, it was like a punch in the gut, going from a full-time musician to jobless,” Wood says. “It was important for me to give something back out and not only keep my nose above water but stay engaged with the fans, because they’re not only fans, they’re friends.”

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