Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.
Hey everyone! My name is Madalean Gauze, and I am a musician from Philadelphia. Since the stay-at-home order, I feel like we all have been experiencing a crazy wave of emotions. It’s kind of wild to be pursuing a career as a musician, only to have it be taken away by a pandemic. Even though things feel somewhat lost, I want to share a bit of my experience in the hopes that it can maybe help someone else.
I know I’m not alone in anything I’m feeling. The news is hitting us all, and at times it seems unbearable. It’s crazy how walking outside, touching a door knob and pumping gas brings on uncertainty and fear. With all the chaos going on all, I wanted to do was stay inside and hide, but that only left me staring at my phone or television in disbelief. When you are stuck inside, you really have nothing else to do except examine your life and its direction. I would lay on my couch questioning all of my life choices, and I was longing for some sort of sign to lift my spirits. After spending a lot of time quietly agonizing over every aspect of my life, I realized something about myself. If music went away, I would survive; if I could never release a song again, I would be fine. But if I did not find a way to help during all of this, I would feel like I failed.
One afternoon, I was watching the news and they mentioned how hospital workers were eating their meals out of vending machines. The idea that I was sitting on my couch eating take out while an essential worker did not have a warm meal was completely unacceptable. I did some research, and I found the charity Fuel The Fight, a partner of Front Line Foods. This organization provides meals to hospital and essential workers in Philadelphia. When I learned about the charity, I knew I wanted to help. I had the idea to create a compilation album of local musicians called Fuel The Fight, and all proceeds would go to help out the charity.
As soon as I had this idea, I felt like I got a giant kick in the butt from the universe. Every second of every day was spent trying to get musicians onboard. In my heart, I believed that everyone wanted to help, so I did not limit myself when asking musicians to join me. I had no fear, and no band was out of my league—every musician was equal. Musicians who were depressed from canceled tours or forgotten album releases were now being encouraged to get to work and create music. I gave everyone a deadline, and they all hustled and got to work. Originally, I was hoping to get 20 song submissions, but in the end, I received 61 songs.
The album is full of new music, old singles and demos created during quarantine. I received songs from musicians like Eric Slick (Dr. Dog), Joe Jack Talcum, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Lotus. On this album, you will hear songs from musicians who tour the world playing sold-out shows, but you will also hear songs from musicians who have never played live. A very powerful moment on the album is the last track submitted by John Swana on behalf of jazz musician Bootsie Barnes. Barnes sadly passed away on April 22 from COVID-19. The recording is a live performance at Ortlieb’s, and the song is titled “I Want To Be Happy.” It really is an honor and completely moving to have this song as the final track.
In the end, the album raised almost $2,000 in a week, and we fed so many essential workers. I’m happy to announce that there is a second compilation album, Fuel The Fight II, and it’s out today only on Bandcamp. It has song submissions from Goat Mumbles (Rob Grote from the Districts), The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, Laser Background (Speedy Ortiz), Narcos Family Band, Andrew Lipke and many more incredible musicians. Check out the album here.
We’re adding Philadelphia Bail Fund as a charity that will receive proceeds from Fuel The Fight II. What is going on in the world right now requires us all to jump in and help out in any way that we can. By supporting Fuel The Fight II, you are supporting a local restaurant, feeding essential workers and providing support for individuals who cannot post bail. Here are other charities that you can donate to as well:
Black Lives Matter Philly
Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project
Pennsylvania Prison Society
Amistad Law Project
New Sanctuary Movement