Isolation Drills: Coleman Rigg (Coleman Rigg & The Ridge Runners)

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.

Rigg: I’ll never forget the moment I was at the stove stirring chili, watching the White House press conference when they first announced the “two weeks to stop the spread” lockdown. I had been staying inside for two or three days at that point, but that exact moment—with the chili—is when I thought, “Holy fuck, this is real.”

At the time, we were planning to release our first studio single, “Too Close,” about a week after the WH announcement. As excited as we were about the release, it all felt sort of trite in the moment. We continued to promote on social media, even held out hope to play two Philly shows we had lined up in April to support the release. 

Looking back though, I am thankful to have already been planning to release new music from March through May, because it was something of a bright spot to be able to have something positive to share.

For about two months following the releases, though, I barely picked up an instrument to play. All the while, I felt guilty and ashamed for not doing so. There was so much hype around our new music, our shows and our fans and friends that I didn’t really think much about how to continue the music and the band after we released our Characters Living In Screens EP.

The feeling of losing momentum was difficult, but I was lucky to have my partner Cynthia to keep me grounded. Cynthia is a social worker, and she was continuing her work as normal through the pandemic, so hearing all about her day-to-day made me feel extremely fortunate. My problems as an artist seemed so insignificant at times that I almost forgot about them.

The perspective offered by her experience is what sort of lifted me out of whatever funk I was in. It made me feel lighter and put me in an inspired place to write again. It was at this time that I penned the song “If You Really Wanna Know” after my guitarist Zach shared a guitar lick that inspired me.

The song became soaked with quarantine-esque lyrics and imagery, but it was mostly forward looking and inspiring—hopeful for a time when we could all begin “getting back out there.” It’s wild to be thinking about the origins of this song now that the vaccine rollout is well underway and that people are beginning to feel a little more like themselves again.

Looking back, writing “If You Really Wanna Know” was a cathartic moment, and I’m glad I was able to channel the energy of the time into something creative. We thanked our frontline workers for all they did last year, but it can’t stop there. We also owe them a lot for any “normalcy” that resumes post-pandemic, because in reality, their sacrifices last year were the seeds of hope that grew into songs, friendly get-togethers, family reunions and everything in between.