Staff Reporter: Angel America
Wow. Here we are. Stuck in each of our own versions of quarantine. Yes, some of our world is slowly reopening… but one thing is for certain, the music scene in SWFL is just as alive as it ever was.
If you have missed seeing and hearing live/local music as much as I have, you’ve probably already heard about the Songwriter Quarantine. This “challenge” started very early on in the initial statewide safer-at-home policies in Florida. What is a Songwriter Quarantine, you ask? Songwriter Quarantine is a collective of songwriters from several different states (mostly Florida) partaking in weekly songwriting challenges. These challenges have varied in form from week to week and continue to stimulate songwriters’ imaginations as the world remains stuck indoors for the foreseeable future.
Songwriter Quarantine (SQ) is the brainchild of local SWFL artist and songwriter Keefe Klug. When asked why he started this challenge Klug says, “I just knew that being cooped up indoors for an indeterminate amount of time was really going to stifle my creativity unless I had some motivation and direction.” When asked what has motivated him throughout the challenges, Klug says, “Each week is a great exercise in discipline and craft. Having a different challenge every week stimulates different parts of your creativity and really helps you access different songwriting techniques that you didn’t necessarily think you had.” Klug claims this project has also been a great support group for the music community in SWFL throughout the quarantine. The SQ has already had 28 different writers from at least 7 different states. “It has been an incredibly supportive community,” says Klug.
SONGWRITER QUARANTINE SONG BY: Keefe Klug, “Sultana” https://youtu.be/Ncc4GWcTemM
“This took me out of my element. It is an Irish Americana folk song about the deadliest maritime tragedy in American history during the Civil War. As a history major and a general history buff it was fun to tell a story most people had never heard.”
There are some other well-known local musicians who have been thriving in this challenge. Claire Liparulo, who has been performing and writing with The Freecoasters for the past six years, has done an amazing job keeping up with and killing this challenge each and every week since it began. When asked what motivates her to continue writing for SQ Claire says, “I feel more productive being involved in this during this time. I have a due date for something. It’s so easy to lose track of time and become disoriented when you can’t even leave your house. You start to lose track of days and weeks. I am used to looking at my calendar multiple times a day because I had gigs every day. I haven’t worked in two months. When I know I’m working on week seven, it reminds me that I have created something every single week and can observe and appreciate my progress.”
SONGWRITER QUARANTINE SONG BY: Claire Liparulo, “Come In With The Dogs” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLZSsBY-xR0
“I loved the prompt that week. It was to take a line out of page 42 in the most beat up book on your bookshelf, for me that was White Fang by Jack London. That line became the title of your song. At first, I thought I would write some things sassy with that line, but instead, I wrote about missing my dogs. I wrote about missing a life and a future that is no longer mine. About letting go of someone or something that you love very much because it’s the best thing. And all the complicated feelings you experience at the same time. I played with different texture, structure, and vocal style than I have ever used before.”
Another very accomplished local musician and activist Caleb Neff has also been a contributing songwriter throughout the SQ. You may know him from the band Rosaline or from his full-service recording studio Juniper Recording. When asked why he was involved in the SQ Neff claims, “Truly, I was just excited about the other people who were doing it and it seemed like a fun way to stay connected and challenged.” One of the songs he wrote during the SQ is called “Keep Your Ass at Home”, which Neff describes as an educational and informational song.
These musicians have been creating, writing, recording, going live and thriving as productive artists throughout the Covid Crisis. This challenge, during this time, was almost a perfect storm for songwriting. Though I am sure it has been rough, in these songs their emotions and talents shine through. They continue to provide Grade A entertainment during quarantine and they have written (and are writing) songs that will last a lifetime, maybe longer. I have spent many evenings during quarantine pulling up the SQ website and listening to these fresh, original songs while cooking dinner, creating my own art or trying not to pull my hair out. There are currently 9 weeks of songs listed on the site for season one and season two is in the works!
So, if you haven’t checked it out yet, now’s the time: https://www.songwriterquarantine.com/