The Topanga New Times’ Saori Wall reached out to some of the canyon’s best-loved musicians to find out how they are weathering the Coronavirus storm. She asked them to reflect on three questions:
- What is one piece of advice you could give to Topangans while observing safer at home guidelines?
- Who or what has inspired you during these times?
- What is one positive thing you’ve learned the past several weeks?
Acclaimed Scottish-Australian musician Colin Hay was the lead singer and principal songwriter for Men at Work and has had a stellar solo career. Hay’s 2020 tour was postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19, but he isn’t letting the coronavirus get in the way of creativity.
Hay recently performed “Next Year People” at his home in Topanga, for The Australian’s Isolation Room series. He has also appeared on Youtube reading Robert Burn’s “To A Mouse,” the first in Colin’s “Lockdown Homespun Poetry Reading.”
Hay; his wife, singer-songwriter Cecilia Noel; and Cuban artist San Miguel Perez just recorded a home performance of his newly released single “Now And The Evermore.”
Hay says he wrote the song to “remind us all to live in the present moment and fill it with compassion and kindness.” www.colinhay.com
“What has inspired me most during these times has been observing the Topanga Community Spirit…each and all of us honoring local businesses with our support and understanding. Throughout this whole SIT experience the most important thing I have learned is to be patient with my thoughts and the thoughts of others…these times call for calm.”
Cecilia said she feels more relaxed not being on a busy tour schedule. Colin offers a sweet suggestion for a ‘safer-at-home’ routine: “Dress up for dinner once a week, enter your house through the back door and pretend you are in a restaurant you’ve never been to before.”
Deb Ryder is a contemporary blues singer and songwriter with the Vizztone Label Group. Her most recent album, Enjoy the Ride, dropped in 2018. She was named a Blues Living Legend in 2019. www.debryder.com
“I think it’s time to embrace this extended time off from the grind with the understanding that we need to accept that not everything is in our control…this is not a time to reinvent the wheel, reinvent yourself, but rather a good time to rest and reflect. Let go of unnecessary stress and worry. Seek to remain positive.
“I am most inspired right now by those on the front lines. I am inspired by the many ordinary people doing heroic volunteer efforts, making masks, delivering food to those in need, regardless of risk to themselves.”
“We have been experimenting with healthier organic vegetarian cooking, and limiting meat and dairy. Some amazing new family recipes happening all up in here y’all! My entire career as a touring performer has come to a screeching halt, but creativity and inspiration comes in many forms. Let it in!”
The Nations: Jewels and Johnny Nation
Topanga musicians Jewels and Johnny Nation describe their band as “capturing a spirit that is like June Carter Cash fronting a late 60s country/folk/psych band. The Nations are in Baja for the duration of the coronavirus shut down, but shared a song they wrote and recorded in quarantine called “You Might Not Remember.” www.jewelsandjohnnynation.com
Johnny: Have patience. Time heals everything. Jewels: Be creative with your quaranteam. Do projects and make things together, even if it’s just tasty and nutritious meals.
Johnny: I really admire the people who’ve stepped up to help others during this difficult time. Sean Penn for helping with testing in LA and donating to the Navajo nation. Also very grateful to the grocery stores and farmers markets that are keeping everyone fed.
Jewels: My husband has maintained harmony in our relationship with his sense of humor and calm, balanced nature. He picks up the guitar daily, so we keep making music, bringing us joy, togetherness.
I’m once again learning the importance of community, but now more than ever before, that community has moved online. I’m really grateful for social media and balanced news sources to stay connected. I’ve learned to self-motivate better. When you have all the time in the world, how are you going to spend your time? How do you put together a day when external timelines have been removed? That’s been an interesting learning process of self care.
Johnny: What she said. I’ve learned it’s best to just agree with my wife.
Longtime Topanga resident and musician Tom Mitchell has been a member of the Corral Stage Band and previously with Lost Tribe of America. During any other May he and his bandmates would be preparing to take the stage at Topanga Days, with a performance inspired and informed by the golden era of canyon music history. His Lost Tribe submissions are described as “a poetic deep rock experimental experience made up from local Topanga misfits for the purpose of having spontaneous artistic fun.”
“I would advise my fellow Topangans to always know who your neighbors are and keep it friendly while everyone is at home.
“We made some chocolate chip cookies for a wonderful neighbor who’s an ICU nurse..these heroes deserve our thanks, and if you have young children out of school…read..read and work on puzzles!”
Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sam Small recently produced a quarantine single, “Preserve Me Any Wonder”, for NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. www.samsmall.bandcamp.com
“Create something, read, learn something new, challenge yourself, talk to friends, get out in nature. Life is still happening, the best thing we can do is accept this change, understand that it is temporary, and adapt. I’m not really one who looks for inspiration. As Chuck Close said, “Inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work.”
I’m just trying to get up every day and create something, even if it’s bad. I taught myself how to solder and I’ve been learning French. I also got really into running and have been studying proper technique, which is more important than you might think.