Creative Innovations in Times of Covid
Ocean City is home to thousands of businesses who are all developing new ways to stay afloat in the wake of a global pandemic. The food and beverage industry, as the backbone of our resort town, is changing before our eyes. Outdoor dining spaces are popping up in parking lots. Most restaurants have altered their menus to facilitate easier carry out options. Others have morphed into makeshift grocery stores in order to fill the gaps of local shortages. All of them are scrambling to cover the cost of inventory purchased in preparation for another busy summer season.
Our entertainment industry, being critical to most vacation plans, has experienced its own upheaval. Until recently, mini-golf courses and amusement parks sat empty. Annual events were cancelled, and every venue for live shows fell silent. Local musicians found themselves without an audience.
As restrictions are slowly lifted, what does live music look like in a world of social distancing?
Natalie Davis Trio
The Natalie Davis Trio is a relatively new musical act on the Ocean City scene, but its members carry decades of combined performing experience. To say that music is their “job” is to belittle their passion. When Covid-19 forced bars and restaurants to close for safety precautions, drummer/vocalist Scott Glorioso says performers lost much more than than just a job: “It’s our money, but it’s also our fun, our lifestyle, our art.”
Bassist/vocalist Kasey Briggs lost years of work toward finally living out his dream as a working musician. This summer was to be the first in which he performed full time, without the necessity of also bartending or waiting tables. And then the world fell apart. He struggled through the first few weeks of closures: “Picking up a guitar was a source of depression for me.” The usual excitement to play was replaced with fear and doubt. Everything he had been grinding toward seemed to be drifting away.
When quarantine was instituted statewide, lead vocalist/keyboardist, Natalie Davis, faced the added challenge of being miles away from her band mates. Living in Belair, she drives two hours for practices and performances. With traveling no longer an option, and no real idea of when the restrictions would lift, she turned inward: “It gave me a chance to slow down and really look at things that were playing a factor in my music, my voice, and what performing means to me.”
Troubling times often force introspection, and that is where change is born.
Ocean City Band Looks Forward to Live Performances
Briggs, inspired by fellow performers, introduced the idea of virtual practices. Through the help of an application called Acapella, The Natalie Davis Trio got back to work. Each member is able to record their own parts of a song, to which the others can then synchronize and practice along. It allows them to individually experiment with their style of the piece, so that when they practice in person, they can already be prepared. Davis says this new tool is a game changer, and one that will continue to benefit them, “I’m coming back into this with a different lens.”
As a creator, Davis admits that she was battling writer’s block several months ago, and that she actually benefited from the time alone: “I did a lot of searching. Going forward, I feel like I have more material to work with, that I can write more originals.” Glorioso found his own silver lining. As an Ocean City local, he is usually too busy working to appreciate the season. “You might never have a Spring off again, so don’t squander it being miserable.”
Keeping The Music Alive
In a time of crisis, there are still bright lights to be found. The Trio has resumed live practices thanks to the generosity of the community. Burn, a wood fired pizza joint in Berlin, donated their empty dining area, plenty of space for safely distanced jams. And thanks to the relationships they have built with venue owners during their careers, Briggs and Glorioso already know which venues are prepared to protect everyone once indoor performances begin. Since 80% of their shows are at outside locales, they are hopeful for a busy season.
These three enterprising musicians may have been miles apart during unprecedented times, but that only seems to have bolstered their connection and drive. With a little bit of technology and a whole lot of honesty, they agreed to make decisions together on a case by case basis. Davis stressed that communication within the band is the key to making sure they are all comfortable with where they are performing. Aptly, she stated, “That’s the hardest part about this: it’s not about one person, it’s about ALL of us.”