Isolation Drills: Francis Ponton (Overwinter)

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.

Ponton: Prior to COVID, things were looking up. I’m signed to local Philly label Good How Are You, I was getting more stable bookings, and folks in DIY circles were starting to get to know who I was. It wasn’t the random bookings last minute where I didn’t fit in, style-wise—I was getting bookings for shows where I complemented the other artists. In the fall 2019, I played my first show at World Cafe Live, as I was requested to open for Alaskan artist Quinn Christopherson.

Right before everything shut down, I was getting prepared for the biannual fest hosted by Good How Are You. I was going to play on a rooftop for my set, which thrilled me to no end. Then, Miss Rona came around.

I haven’t played a show since early March, my last one being a show at Connie’s Ric Rac in South Philly. It was a low-key show, as word had started to spread about the presence of COVID. So we made it an intimate, mostly musicians jam-and-vibe night. I haven’t performed since, aside from a DJ livestream I did.

Since the shutdown, I’ve been working on a new LP. At the time of this writing, all instrumental tracks are done and lyrics written. Now it’s just the vocal recordings and mixing/mastering left. I’m also working on a song featuring Philly artist Tarantino.

Other than that, I’m just tuning into music livestreams and biding my time until things are safe again and we can have live shows. I’ve never felt that my performances suit livestreams, so I’ve abstained from doing shows online. I’m also immunocompromised, so “stealth” live shows are not an option for me.

I’ve really grown to miss shows. Both ones I’ve played and ones I’ve attended. I’ve seen a handful of local DIY venues shut down forever because of this. Shows, especially DIY ones, have become my safe haven to escape the world and cut loose. To lose them is to lose a piece of myself.

For now, I’m just desperately awaiting a time I can not only create music, but perform it safely as well.