"I haven't seen this city so empty, except for when Katrina passed through," said Walter "Wolfman" Washington. For many New Orleans musicians, including Washington, this time in quarantine has been especially uncertain as the city attempts to deal with the novel coronavirus and its effects.
"For, like, three weeks, I didn't pick up my guitar because I didn't know what was gonna happen, and when I did, my fingers was kind of sore," said Washington. "Damn, I won't let that happen no more, so I've been shredding."
A New Orleans native, Washington is a beloved figure of the city's music scene and has been so for decades. He's played with all the greats, including Irma Thomas, Johnny Adams, and just about everyone in between. His most recent 2018 album, My Future Is My Past, is one of Washington's first delves into solo work, but Washington's mainstay band The Roadmasters have been performing together since the 1980s.
"I definitely do miss performing. I definitely miss that," said Washington, who has performed in-person only once from his porch, for a small group of neighbors, since lockdown began. "A lot of my neighbors didn't realize I was a musician," said Washington, laughing.
For many musicians, the chance to share their music and feel the push and pull of other performers is an integral part of their experience as artists. In order to make in-person events possible once more, following proper social-distancing procedures is of the utmost importance.
"A lot of people are really not taking heed to what really has to be done," said Washington. "All I can say is, the public pay attention to what we need to do so we can be over this crisis."
Washington's Facebook has a livestream of him performing alongside others virtually, for fans and those who miss live music to tune in to, as well as a link to donate to the musicians via the app Venmo (@Michelle-Bushey-5).