Isolation Drills: Bright Kelly (The Great Enough)

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.

I don’t know where I thought I would be in 2020. Waiting for the hindsight to kick in, I guess. I certainly didn’t expect to be in the prologue of a peri-apocalyptic survival horror novel. 

I’m a bit solitary by nature, so the idea of sheltering in place didn’t terrify me, but I’ll be honest, the touch hunger settles in after a while. Even those of us, like me, lucky enough to be shacked up with someone special would give an awful lot to hug a friend. Like I sing in a song by the Great Enough, “You’d give anything to be with your friends again.”

I would. Well, almost anything—but I wouldn’t put them at risk. And so I’m holed up here, working on music at a truly feverish pace, playing shows from my spare room, wondering what a post-COVID world is going to be like. Will we all give up on shaking hands and start bowing and nodding? Will we remember kindness? Will we be grateful?

I suppose I ought to shill for a moment. I sing for the Great Enough and have solo work, and there’s content for both.  My band dropped a new single last month called “The Fall,” complete with a music video.  I drop regular solo material and perform twice a week. Details here.

Honestly, that’s my job these days. Struggling to earn the kind of living I was making traveling and gigging constantly without leaving the house is a white-knuckle thrill ride I could do without, but my fan family, who we call Lamplighters, have been unimaginably supportive. They actually just ran a fundraiser to get me a looper pedal so I can add that element to my shows.

I’d want to specifically call out my Patreon community for keeping me sane. I post a lot of lyrics, poetry, demos, things like that. Hell, I’m actually serializing a novel over there. Come hang with us, folks. It’s a good time. 

So. I was tasked with talking about how COVID-19 has affected me. It’s left me lonely, and anxious, and scared to leave my house. It’s ramped my impostor syndrome into high gear, because my music has never been more do-or-die than it is right now.

I’m pretty sure I’ve got it easy. A close friend of mine had to watch in terror as his mother battled this insidious virus. Thankfully, she pulled through, but there are no guarantees, no matter how strong someone might seem. Corona is indiscriminate. 

Gang, I’m rambling, and I know it. Let me say the most important things I can:
• Help who you can. 
• Donate locally (I might recommend Philabundance) or specifically (I might recommend MusiCares, whose relief fund for impacted musicians kept a roof over my head this month).
• Love who you’re able. 
• Get really good at digital hangs. Faces on a screen aren’t as impersonal as they used to be. They beat the living hell out of no faces at all. 

I’m humbled by what the virus has taught me about the world. It is both crueler and kinder than I believed. It is a wider spectrum than I’d thought possible.

As I sing in another song, “There are deeper mysteries than either man or androids dream/And it’s been a while now since I weathered the storm.”

If I seem impossibly self-absorbed, quoting myself, well … I’m here in quarantine, forgetting how to sleep. Forgive me my little forays into conceit, and let’s trespass on the world again as soon as it’s safe. 

In the meantime, stay the fuck home. 

Love and peace,
Bright Kelly

P.S. Black Lives Matter