Editor’s note: With live music and concert reviews on hold due to COVID-19, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is focusing on how Georgia musicians are spending their time in our new feature, Mic Check.
The Indigo Girls were among the first artists to fire up a livestream as the coronavirus pandemic decimated the live music industry within days.
Their March 19 online concert attracted about 80,000 viewers and inspired Amy Ray and Emily Saliers to keep connecting with their fans virtually.
Now, with a new album (“Look Long”) due May 22, the Indigo Girls have committed to a concert and Q&A series every Thursday in May leading to the album’s release (7 p.m. on their Facebook and Instagram pages). The May 14 installment will include an optional donation with all proceeds going to charity.
In a recent chat from their respective lockdown locales – Ray in North Georgia and Saliers in northwest Florida, though she lives in Decatur – the Indigo Girls shared how they’ve been spending their time, what they’re listening to and how much they miss playing for a live audience. (A feature on the pair and their new album is coming later this month.)
What’s been going on during lockdown time?
Amy: We toured until March, which was too long. If we had had the leadership we needed, we probably wouldn't have stayed on the road. I was in 18 different places; I was flying and could have spread it. I got home, and there was so much domestic stuff to do — six dogs, five cats, a lot to figure out with schooling. I volunteered at a food pantry for a few weeks, but my partner has some lung issues, and she thought maybe I should wait to continue … I have a list of things to fix in the house; I have my pets, my daughter (who is 6), my partner. I feel lucky; I've got it really good. My partner and I split homeschooling, so we're building forts with cardboard boxes and gardening. Tons of outdoor things. I'm going to see my mom once a week in Decatur and sitting outside, kind of far away. I pick up food for her and drop it off. I have endless gratitude for all of the gifts I've been given. It's like the great reset button in your life. I've been writing every day, trying for at least 30 minutes in the mode of art by myself, whether it's at 2 a.m. or another window.
Emily: My wife works remotely, so we split up the days for homeschooling. There was some resistance there, shall I say, from our daughter (who is 7). Little kids are going through their own thing. I just finished a book, "Trust Exercise," and also a memoir about a same-sex abusive relationship ("In the Dream House" by Carmen Maria Machado). It's such an important book. Since then, I have been doing some word puzzles. I get The New York Times crossword every Sunday. I think the word puzzles are keeping my mind attached to something. I've started working on some new music playing around on my software, and I've absolutely loved it. I've done a (expletive) load of dishes. We cook in every night. I don't know how I became a neat person, but I'm doing a lot of cleaning.
What do you miss about life right now?
Amy: I miss our crew, the people we tour with. I miss shows. I was going to see Brent Cobb in Asheville March 11, but that didn't happen. I had plans to go to a few different shows and see our friends who open for us. I miss playing for people.
Emily: Hugging my extended family. I miss live music for sure. I miss going to a park. I miss the structure of my workdays, but we're pretty much adjusted by now.
What have you been listening to?
Amy: I have this huge vinyl collection. Right now, Bob Willis and Tommy Duncan, from the '50s. I've got Hozier, Kate Tempest, Algiers, Brent Cobb, Bon Iver. I've been trying to get back into jazz, so I bought a John Coltrane album and Miles Davis, and I'm trying to get into those. I'm definitely listening to music in my office while I'm working. Vinyl is one of those patient formats where you have to be around to turn the record over.
Emily: I've been listening to a good bit of country and Americana, like Jason Isbell, and we've discovered this young artist Katie Pruitt, whose album I love. I'm obsessed with the Cyrus sisters. I thought Miley on "Saturday Night Live" was riveting, and I love Noah. There's something about those women's voices that captivate. I already ordered my Noah Cyrus T-shirt! I like to go through the Apple (Music) charts. I listen to a Young Thug a lot and old stuff like Tupac and Biggie (Smalls) and Drake's new song that has swept TikTok ("Toosie Slide"). I've been listening to our new album to absorb it for when we're able to go out on the road.
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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC