Greenwood is fortunate to have a rich and varied music scene. As the pandemic has prevented people from gathering Uptown to socialize and hear live music, our music makers have lost both income and interaction with fans. Ashby Stokes, a fixture on the Greenwood music scene, is working on a couple of group projects to keep the music alive in Greenwood.
“It started out with a virtual version of ‘American Pie’ [aka ‘The Day the Music Died,’]” Ashby says, involving various musicians in playing the Don McLean classic together—but separately. They hope to shoot video of the project. McLean himself has generously waived any fees, requesting only a video of the finished product.
The second project is designed to keep local restaurants afloat and musicians in the public eye, as well as give fans food and music to quarantine by. Fans can enjoy a series of #TeamGreenwood concerts and conversations on Facebook Live. While several local artists have posted videos throughout the weeks, “Someone will livestream at 7 p.m. every Thursday,” Ashby says. Local musician Keller Ridgeway, a bright young star in the Greenwood music scene, was a leader in getting the project off the ground. Because of distancing requirements, the musicians have chosen not to play with their bands.
The series kicked off April 2 with saxophonist Steven Galloway. Other performers involved include Clay Sprouse, Granger Smith of Jackson Station, Jake Bartley, Austin Woodard, O’Doyle Rulz and others. T.J. Jenks of Montague’s Restaurant has been a big part of the process as well.
“I hope people continue to support it,” Ashby adds. “There was no way to prepare for this, and it’s tough for musicians. Each concert will have a button for Venmo or Paypal to help support the music community.” Most of the performers also have content available on YouTube.
“The comments from people who have watched were so positive,” he says, “We’re so lucky to have it.”
“I have two cool setups at home for music, one studio inside for live-streaming and another outdoors where the sunsets are beautiful.”
Most people are missing the social interaction they enjoy on an average, pre-virus day. For musicians, that interaction is doubly important. “I really miss interacting with the audience. I never take that for granted,” Ashby says. “That’s a hard thing to do without. I’ve been doing this for 40 years. The [online] comments have been so supportive that it makes me feel I’m doing the right thing.”
In addition to his frequent public performances and songwriting, Ashby teaches music at an area school. “I really miss the kids and their parents,” he adds. In order to keep his students on track, he has recorded some of the songs they were working on in class, leaving out the students’ part of the music so they can practice it at home.
In the meantime, he and his wife, who works in school administration, are working from home and helping (or “hounding”) their kids with schoolwork.
Supporting Greenwood Business
Musicians depend heavily on local restaurants as venues for their music. With restaurants closed for all except take-out, many small business owners and employees are in precarious positions. “ There have been a lot of signage and radio spots encouraging people to support local restaurants and food banks,” Ashby says, “ It’s all about encouraging people to spend what they can locally.”
Because the peak of COVID-19’s impact appears to still be a few weeks away in the area, no one knows exactly when the distancing requirements will be relaxed. The South Carolina Festival of Flowers and other events remain uncertain. But Ashby is hopeful that the best of Greenwood will still be on display soon.
Even if not everything is rescheduled, the year-round excitement of festivals, car shows and live music will continue. “It will all happen,” Ashby believes, “It’s just a matter of time.”
In the meantime, he’s making sure that the music hasn’t died in Greenwood.
For more information on what’s happening in Greenwood, check in with us on social media and follow #discovergreenwood.