Gordon Inman on what local musicians should be doing to stay relevant despite quarantines
As the quarantine continues in Chattanooga it is essential that we continue to support our local musicians. The pandemic has caused virtually all concerts and musical gatherings in the Scenic City to stop as we fight to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. While this is absolutely necessary, it still has left many local musicians uncertain of how to continue to bring music to the community.
Gordon Inman, a local clarinet player and saxophonist who is highly active in our music scene, told us that he is using this time to focus on practicing in private. Gordon teaches lessons all over Chattanooga when he is not performing at events and has had his work put to a halt by the quarantine measures.
“A lot of musicians seem to be going MIA right now,” Gordon told us. “That’s because they’re woodshedding. I think that’s what all artists should be doing right now.”
Woodshedding is a term used by musicians that means to focus on perfecting their craft in private. With little work available for them, Gordon thinks now is the time for local musicians to take a moment to retreat and focus on honing their skills.
Many local musicians have taken to the internet because of the quarantine and are now doing concerts and music sessions online. Gordon attributes this to musicians wanting to stay relevant during this, something that they should all be striving for. He thinks that doing free performances online isn’t the right way to go about it though.
“If you do this for a living, its crucial to stay in people’s memory,” Gordon said. “I feel that this is the time to try to surprise people. Show that you are inventing a new color, so to speak.”
Many local musicians have resorted to playing their music online for free during the quarantine or at the few places still open for just tips. While it is understandable for musicians to be trying to make money and retain their relevancy, doing things like this can drive down the value of playing music and hurt the local music scene in the long run. Instead of this, Gordon advocates for musicians to show themselves in a new light and retain relevancy by reminding the community of their character. One example he pointed to is local blues player Lon Eldridge.
“Lon has been posting videos of himself as a hologram to social media or telling people about how he makes bolo ties and can sell them to people. Now that’s a new color.”
The long term effects on the music scene will be determined by how local musicians react. If they resort to paying for far less than they did before out of desperation, this may lead to people expecting cheaper performances in the future. By finding new ways to imprint on the community and not selling themselves short, musicians can guarantee that once things return to normal they will find a Chattanooga waiting for them hungry for the music it had before.