Isolation Drills: Jesse Lundy (Hannah Taylor & The Rekardo Lee Trio, Point Entertainment)

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.

Lundy: Phew. Couldn’t have seen this one coming, certainly

My wife Tara and I returned from vacation on March 1, knowing we were returning to a new frontier. The guy who sat behind us on the plane coughed, shivered and sneezed the entire way back, so we figured we were goners before we even got home. Luckily, that was not the case. 

That first week back was kinda/sorta normal, but by Sunday, March 8, I was in panic mode. I played “my last gig” that night at 118 North with Hannah Taylor & The Rekardo Lee Trio, and already you could see people were scared to go out. Then Bryan Dilworth passed away, which was such a colossal loss; there’s just no way to overstate it. But there was no time to properly mourn his passing or have a memorial or funeral because by Thursday, March 12, it was clear that it was time to stock up and prepare to hunker down, which we did. I had “the last supper and draft beer” with Chris Perella from Ardmore Music Hall that night. Sadly, HT&RLK were supposed to play the final show at Thirsty Soul on Friday, March 13, but at that point, it would have been irresponsible

Since then? We haven’t been in more than three stores since March 15. All these UPS, USPS, Amazon, Instacart deliver people should be getting hazard pay. They’ve made it so we don’t have to go into stores, and I have to say that that may be part of saving any remaining mental health. All you have to do is take a ride down Kelly or MLK Drive to see that it’s not just Constitutional scholars in Texas and Florida who refuse to do their part. Very grim. 

I’m super proud of the protestors who have remained peaceful in the face of a government that teargasses them, arrests journalists and protects white supremacists. George Floyd’s life was not in vain as long as the change happens, and there are a lot of brave people out there fighting the good fight. I’ve never been so ashamed to be a Philadelphian or an American as I was on June 1 when they went after the protestors on 676. There’s no way the current administration should be allowed to recover from that, only to turn around and take 100 percent of arts funding and give it to the police. The mayor seems to have lost sight of reality and forgotten that it was Democrats who elected him. It’s really too bad that he failed that badly, that quickly.

Job? Well, Tara works at the Women’s Law Project, a public-interest law firm. Luckily, she is working remotely, both because of the paycheck and because their work is even more urgent now. The concert industry is in real bad shape. We’ve spent all this time scheduling, rescheduling, re-rescheduling and re-re-rescheduling shows. An utter waste of time. I heard that NIVA, the new association for independent venues, says that nine out of 10 indie venues don’t have the cash reserve to survive the next six months.

Try to imagine nine out of 10 small clubs/venues in Philly disappearing; Bourbon & Branch is already gone. Now, we are investigating all the safe options to try and see what works. Summer 2020 is lost, so maybe later this year? The upside is that I’ve spent more time on the phone having meaningful conversations with my friends and people in the industry than I have in years. 

I’d like to spend my summer off doing exactly what we’ve illustrated here: enjoying the back yard, having some cocktails, spending time with my wife and walking the trails in Fairmount Park (early enough each day that no one else is there yet). I miss playing music with my band, I miss a lot of my friends, I have no idea when I’ll ever see my parents (Maine and Florida) again, but we all have a responsibility to every other person in the world to stop being selfish for a minute and do the right thing. If you think about the sacrifices that people made in WWII, then staying home in the hammock with a Negroni isn’t that bad. Think about that the next time you whine about needing a haircut or missing bowling practice.