Kimono My House concerts celebrate a panacea to the pandemic

Tom Cheshire (from left), Andy Gish, Kim Ware and Lars Nagel are the organizers behind the Kimono My House Festival.

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Tom Cheshire (from left), Andy Gish, Kim Ware and Lars Nagel are the organizers behind the Kimono My House Festival.

The in-person shows mark two years of online performances.

It’s a Tuesday night weeks after the pandemic has shut down the world. A woman is sitting in a bathtub. She’s next to a bar of soap. She starts singing. It’s a beautiful cover of Tom Waits’ “Blue Valentine.” It’s the time of COVID-19 and performers are blue because there is nowhere to perform. All the music venues are closed and everyone is struggling to not only make a living as an artist (hard, even in the best of circumstances), but to be able to create art itself (something made more beautiful by the act of sharing it).

A valentine, of sorts, comes by way of Georgia-based musicians Andy Gish, of the Yum Yum Tree, and Kim Ware of The Good Graces. The wait is over, for those who want to perform Tom Waits in their bathrooms, like Aileen Loy singing “Blue Valentine,” or folk tunes in their breakfast nooks, or rock ‘n’ roll on their living room sofas. Gish and Ware have formed Kimono My House, a virtual house concert festival.

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The Kimono My House Festival is happening March 10-13 at several venues in and around Atlanta.

Credit: Courtesy of Kimono My House

The Kimono My House Festival is happening March 10-13 at several venues in and around Atlanta.

Credit: Courtesy of Kimono My House

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The Kimono My House Festival is happening March 10-13 at several venues in and around Atlanta.

Credit: Courtesy of Kimono My House

Credit: Courtesy of Kimono My House

That was at the beginning of the pandemic, in March of 2020. Through the Kimono My House page on Facebook, musicians could now perform online for audiences around the globe. There was no cover charge, but donations were gladly accepted. It was a new and novel way for musicians to connect with an audience. Perhaps the valentine wasn’t so blue after all.

These days, with COVID-19, hopefully, fading in our collective rear view mirror, Kimono My House is hosting a festival on March 10-13, both online and in person.

“Kimono My House has far exceeded any dream I had of what it could be,” Gish says. “Kimono My House was what I needed. As it turns out, it’s what a lot of people needed.” Since it’s official launch in March of 2020, it now has over 800 members and the organization has hosted more than 1,200 performances.

“Some people have described it as a lifeline,” Kim Ware says. “It really feels like that. There’s no way I could have known I would make so many friends during a pandemic.”

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Andy Gish (left) and Kim Ware are the founders of Kimono My House, an online concert outlet that's becoming a real-world festival.

Credit: Courtesy of Kimono My House

Andy Gish (left) and Kim Ware are the founders of Kimono My House, an online concert outlet that's becoming a real-world festival.

Credit: Courtesy of Kimono My House

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Andy Gish (left) and Kim Ware are the founders of Kimono My House, an online concert outlet that's becoming a real-world festival.

Credit: Courtesy of Kimono My House

Credit: Courtesy of Kimono My House

It all started when COVID-19 first hit and the world stopped. Gish was working in a hospital emergency room when the first cases were being reported, and she knew something terrifying was taking place. Ware, at the time, was working for WebMD and also knew it was serious. Both artists, they also knew they would have to do something to combat it all.

“I kind of had a breakdown,” Gish says. “Music is the most important to me of all the things I do. It’s where I find solace. Therapy.”

Ware concurs. “Community is very important to me,” she says. “A lot of folks have asked me how to make something like this, but you can’t really orchestrate it.”

Amid the peaks and valleys of quarantines and lockdowns these last years, one thing became apparent — people turned to the arts. Musicians bloomed on social media as not only an act of defiance to COVID-19, but to showcase resilience.

“I left the ER the same week I started Kimono My House,” Gish says. “It was a tough week. Good things come from ashes, right?”

If one has lived in Atlanta, one knows the answer is yes. Her lifelong love of music has kept her rising. “I never saw myself as someone who would write songs and front a band,” Gish says. “But I have several releases and am currently in the studio recording material for a new release.”

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The Soogs play for a virtual audience during one a Kimono My House online performance.

Credit: Courtesy of Kimono My House

The Soogs play for a virtual audience during one a Kimono My House online performance.

Credit: Courtesy of Kimono My House

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The Soogs play for a virtual audience during one a Kimono My House online performance.

Credit: Courtesy of Kimono My House

Credit: Courtesy of Kimono My House

As for Ware, her first love in the arts was visual art before sitting behind a drum kit. From there she started writing songs and formed The Good Graces. “I quickly saw how cathartic and therapeutic songwriting could be, and now I can’t imagine my life without it,” she says.

Everyone has been hurt by the pandemic. Everyone has their scars. But there have been slivers of silver linings. For Gish, Ware, and the musicians and audiences of Kimono My House, that silver has shown bright and will continue to do so. “Kimono My House can still fill a need, regardless of what happens with COVID,” Ware says. “There’s always going to be a desire for folks to still be able to enjoy live music if they are sick, or can’t find a babysitter, or can’t get to a live music venue. It’ll be interesting to see how it will evolve.”

FESTIVAL PREVIEW

Kimono My House Festival

March 10-13. $10-$15. Star Bar (437 Moreland Ave. NE), 529 (529 Flat Shoals Ave. SE) and Waller’s Coffee (240 Dekalb Industrial Way, Decatur). kmhatl.com.


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ArtsATL logo

Credit: ArtsATL

ArtsATL logo

Credit: ArtsATL

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ArtsATL logo

Credit: ArtsATL

Credit: ArtsATL

MEET OUR PARTNER

ArtsATL (www.artsatl.org), is a nonprofit organization that plays a critical role in educating and informing audiences about metro Atlanta’s arts and culture. Founded in 2009, ArtsATL’s goal is to help build a sustainable arts community contributing to the economic and cultural health of the city.

If you have any questions about this partnership or others, please contact Senior Manager of Partnerships Nicole Williams at nicole.williams@ajc.com.