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. Michelle Malone quickly found a way to make her livestreams interesting.
Painting, hula-hooping and cooking are as likely to accompany her musical performances as singing, thanks to the inclusion of wife Trish Land, an artist who also plays percussion with Malone.
The pair regularly hold a “Sing and Paint” session on Malone’s Facebook page at 8 p.m. Fridays (and sometimes it’s a “Pick and Paint Request Hour”) and usually hop online for a shorter, midweek “happy hour” visit.
The Atlanta singer-guitarist and powerhouse blues rocker is renowned for her fiery live performances, but she’s pivoted to more casual presentations during the coronavirus self-quarantine.
Malone and Land recently chatted about what they miss, what they’re listening to and why a whole lot of mothers around the country are very happy right now with a special painted rose.
What has life been like for you now?
Michelle: I got back from a three-week tour in California on March 3, and I’ve pretty much been sitting here on my (butt) since. It’s been pretty disconcerting and quite the journey. Around the second week, I started taking it more seriously, and that’s when they made us stay at home, and you start to get sad and depressed and angry and go through this gamut of emotions. You worry about gigs and money, but then you start streaming online and connecting with people online, and you feel so much better.
Trish: When you’re a performer or artist, you can play for yourself in your house. But when nothing comes back to you (without an audience), you really feel sad. It truly connected Michelle to her own spirit.
You’ve been with your fans quite often with your joint livestreams. What’s the backstory with them?
Michelle: I started feeling better with the livestreams because it gave me hope, financially as well. You do get a boost of energy because you know there are people there. If it’s an upbeat song, like “Hurricane,” I can work myself up.
Trish: We thought, how can we make this really entertaining? The first few we did, I did in my studio and I painted while Michelle played. Right after John Prine passed, Michelle decided to do a beautiful version of “Angel from Montgomery,” so I painted while she sang, and I got an offer on the painting, and I donated the money to the people who work at the animal shelter. We did an Easter Supper one where I cooked and Michelle played.
Michelle: Trish has been painting roses and sending them to people’s moms as a gift. She has sent out almost 200 roses all over the world. It makes her feel better, but it’s also something she can do to make people feel better.
Trish: When this whole thing started, I was so freaking sad and kept seeing all these posts about ‘my mom is elderly and I can’t visit her.’ So, I had just painted this small 5-by-7 rose — I had never painted a rose in my life — and posted it and said, “Whose mom needs this?” I got 108 responses, and that started my whole thing. So now I paint roses all day. They all just go in the mail, and I don’t know who these moms are. I just say, hey, if anyone needs a little love, let me know, and I’ll send them a rose.
That sounds like it could become an expensive act of kindness.
Trish: I got 100 stamps in the mail from someone I don’t know, and people have been donating envelopes and some money on PayPal, too.
What do you miss about life right now?
Michelle: People! I miss the act of getting ready for a show. I miss going to the venue and being in a place where we’re sharing energy. The artist onstage gets as much from the audience as the audience gets from the music.
What have you been listening to?
Michelle: Stuff from the ‘70s that’s upbeat. And Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole. Things that make me happy. I don’t want to listen to anything else. The worst day I’ve had during all of this, it was raining, and I just could hardly get out of bed, and I had to play a streaming show that day so I had to get up and get dressed. I started bingeing on Judy (Garland) and Liza (Minnelli) show tunes, like “Cabaret,” “But the World Goes ‘Round,” “Get Happy.” I must have sung that 20,000 times the other day on a loop in my head. I’m trying to stay as upbeat as possible, watching comedies on Netflix. I have to limit what I can let in my head.
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