A look at how New Orleans musicians are keeping the music going during the pandemic.
Being a musician in a time of a crisis can be hard, both mentally
and financially. However, New Orleans musician Craig Klein, of the bad Bonerama,
stays optimistic and keeps the magic of music alive, despite the hardships
COVID-19 has brought.
"Lots of change [due to the pandemic], but real musicians
will hang in there because music is like medicine," Klein said. "It helps heal
and cure, soothe and smooth the wrinkles that go on in our lives. We need
music to help us get out of this. It's a healer that is necessary for
every walk of life. And there's two kinds of music: good and bad. And
I like both kinds."
Klein went from playing 30 to 40 gigs a month, including
educational shows at Preservation Hall, to preforming a few online streaming
shows, with income coming mainly from unemployment checks and grants.
"Playing music is the best job in the world because it
communicates to the listener in a non-verbal/artistic kind of way that is
thrilling to both the listener and the musician," Klein said. "Getting payed for
playing music is amazing!"
The New Orleans native's love for the trombone began in
fourth grade after following in his uncle's footsteps. After playing in SLU's
band in college, he continued his music career by touring alongside Harry
Connick Jr. from 1990 to 2006. In 2006, he switched his focus to his current
Bonerama is a "brass/funk/rock" band, which he plays for, in
addition to five other bands: the Storyville Stompers, New Orleans
Nightcrawlers, Jazz Vipers, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Palm Court Sunday
Regardless of having fewer performances, the talented
musician plays his instruments every day in order to stay ready for when live
music returns. "Playing a brass instrument requires playing every day to
maintain a high level of proficiency," Klein said.
When playing his tunes, Klein aims to "draw the listener in,
to either want to dance or tap their feet or sing along or to forget about all
the troubles in their world and enjoy the art that we, the musicians, are
creating," he explains.
This trombone player is hopeful that live indoor
performances will return this year, but, in the meantime, he does have plans
for more online streaming shows. "I'm hoping that musicians can get back to
work within the next few months," Klein says. "It will take a while before it
gets to what it was. That might not be back till 2021."
Craig Klein, a true New Orleans musician, can inspire all of
us to stay positive in a time of turmoil and keep us dancing to the sweet
sounds of music.